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EMERGING MARKETS-Emerging stocks at near 3-year highs, Venezuelan bonds fall

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Emerging market stocks flirted with near three-year highs on Wednesday but Venezuelan bonds sold off further as polling data cast doubt on a weekend election and opposition leaders were jailed, raising the risk of fresh U.S. sanctions.

MSCI's benchmark emerging markets stocks index rose 0.2 percent to just below a near three-year high hit at end-July, helped by Asian tech stocks hitting 17-year peaks.

Stellar earnings from Apple lifted component makers globally after shares in the world's most valuable company surged to a record of more than $159.

In South Korea, Apple suppliers LG Innnotek jumped 10 percent and SK Hynix, the world's second-biggest memory chip maker, rose 3.8 percent, helping the index gain 0.2 percent.

Hong Kong shares also rose 0.2 percent and index heavyweight Taiwan gained 0.8 percent.

Emerging Europe also opened stronger with the Turkish market up 0.4 percent, Poland up 0.3 percent to 2-1/2-month highs and Hungary stocks up 0.5 percent.

William Jackson, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said the broader market was supported by a recent run of relatively strong growth data and positive global risk sentiment, with developed markets pulling emerging markets higher.

But Chinese mainland shares slipped 0.2 percent after U.S. President Donald Trump was said to be close to a decision on how to respond to what he considers China's unfair trade practices.

In debt markets Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA bonds fell to 16-month lows, with the 2037 bond dipping below 30 cents in the dollar.

Venezuelan sovereign bonds also sold off across the curve as investors eyed the ongoing crisis triggered by the creation of a controversial legislative body, which has prompted the United States to slap sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro.

The election of the new assembly has been decried by critics as illegitimate with data reviewed by Reuters suggesting a much lower turnout than that claimed by the authorities. Venezuela has jailed two leading critics of Maduro.

Investors fear U.S. sanctions could be widened, putting further strains on the oil-dependent economy and raising the risk of default.

"They left open the option of increasing the sanctions, either halting oil imports from Venezuela or halting the export of refined oil products back to Venezuela, either of which could harm the economy," said Jackson.

Emerging currencies were mainly weaker, with the Russian rouble down 0.4 percent against the dollar, and at its lowest against the euro since November. The rouble has been hit by lower oil prices and concerns about U.S. sanctions.

U.S. Congress voted last week for sanctions to punish the Russian government over interference in the 2016 presidential election and the annexation of Crimea.

The Kazakhstan tenge also took a pounding, falling 1.3 percent against the dollar to its weakest since December 2016.

The South African rand slipped 0.2 percent, trading at a three-week low having sold off in the wake of a warning from ratings agency Moody's on Monday, which still ranks South African debt as investment grade.

The Turkish lira was flat after the trade deficit widened by 80.4 percent year-on-year in July.

But the Indian rupee bucked the trend, firming 0.5 percent to a two-year high after a central bank rate cut that was widely expected as inflation has slumped.

The Reserve Bank of India cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6 percent, a more than 6-1/2 year low. For GRAPHIC on emerging market FX performance 2017, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2e7eoml For GRAPHIC on MSCI emerging index performance 2017, see http://tmsnrt.rs/2dZbdP5

For CENTRAL EUROPE market report, see

For TURKISH market report, see

For RUSSIAN market report, see)

Emerging Markets Prices from Reuters

Equities Latest Net Chg % Chg % Chg

on year

Morgan Stanley

Emrg Mkt Indx 1070.59 +1.59 +0.15 +24.16 Czech Rep 1013.54 -1.41 -0.14 +9.97 Poland 2392.34 +5.94 +0.25 +22.82 Hungary 35960.69 +174.17 +0.49 +12.37 Romania 8307.22 +22.06 +0.27 +17.25 Greece 823.20 +5.46 +0.67 +27.90 Russia 1014.99 +0.75 +0.07 -11.92 South Africa 49140.87 +102.19 +0.21 +11.93 Turkey 06559.33 +411.90 +0.39 +36.37 China 3286.02 -6.62 -0.20 +5.88 India 32529.85 -45.32 -0.14 +22.17 Currencies Latest Prev Local Local close currency currency

% change % change

in 2017

Czech Rep 26.13 26.14 +0.03 +3.34

Poland 4.25 4.25 +0.05 +3.60

Hungary 303.24 303.36 +0.04 +1.84

Romania 4.56 4.55 -0.07 -0.47

Serbia 119.80 119.90 +0.08 +2.96

Russia 60.59 60.35 -0.40 +1.11

Kazakhstan 336.20 331.79 -1.31 -0.76

Ukraine 25.91 25.83 -0.29 +4.23

South Africa 13.29 13.26 -0.21 +3.35

Kenya 103.80 103.77 -0.03 -1.38

Israel 3.58 3.56 -0.45 +7.66

Turkey 3.53 3.53 -0.12 -0.10

China 6.72 6.72 -0.06 +3.30

India 63.81 64.09 +0.44 +6.48

Brazil 3.13 3.13 -0.02 +4.07

Mexico 17.89 17.89 -0.04 +15.78

Debt Index Strip Spd Chg %Rtn Index

Sov'gn Debt EMBIG 324 -2 .05 7 90.67 1

(Reporting by Claire Milhench, editing by Pritha Sarkar)