EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks extend rally, data supports Bovespa
By Asher Levine SAO PAULO, March 28 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks touched their highest level in nearly three months on Friday, tracking a global rally in emerging market equities and better than expected economic data from Brazil. The MSCI Latin American stock index rose for the ninth session in ten, a day after it notched its biggest one-day gain since July 2012. Currencies across the region were mostly flat or stronger against the dollar. Figures from data services company EPRF showed the recent rush of outflows from emerging market equity funds had all but ceased globally as geopolitical tensions ease and risk appetite rises. That trend has been clear in Brazil, with the Bovespa exchange posting a net 1.83 billion reais of inflows from foreign investors in the month through Wednesday, driven by low share prices and slight improvements in economic indicators. Data released earlier on Friday showed that Brazil avoided a primary budget deficit in February, contrary to most market expectations. The data helped push the benchmark Bovespa index past the 50,000 mark on Friday for the first time since mid-January. "Our economic situation is not bad, but it's not good either," said Alvaro Bandeira, a partner at Orama Investimentos in Rio de Janeiro, citing Friday's budget numbers. "The market had been so beaten down that we had a lot of room to rise." The Bovespa returned some of its gains later in the session, however, as shares of state-controlled oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA fell. Shares in the company, known as Petrobras, soared in the previous session after a poll showed declining approval for President Dilma Rousseff's administration, which many investors blame for the company's poor financial performance in recent years. Other Latin American stock indexes posted modest gains, with Mexico's IPC index and Chile's IPSA both up about 0.25 percent. In currency markets, Brazil's real weakened slightly against the dollar after fluctuating back and forth into negative territory earlier in the session. "Now that worry over Brazil's rating downgrade and monetary tapering in the United States has passed, there are far fewer factors pushing the dollar higher (against the real)," said Alfredo Barbutti, chief economist with BGC Liquidez in Sao Paulo. "We'll have to wait and see if (Brazil's) central bank is comfortable with that." Chile's peso strengthened 0.5 percent against the dollar, driven by higher prices for copper, the country's main export, while the Mexican peso was little-changed. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1910 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 984.59 0.95 -2.73 MSCI LatAm 3148.19 0.26 -1.9 Brazil Bovespa 49686.82 0.08 -3.53 Mexico IPC 40071.09 0.4 -6.22 Chile IPSA 3747.13 0.13 1.30 Chile IGPA 18444.89 0.02 1.20 Argentina MerVal 6134.3 -0.92 13.79 Colombia IGBC 13637.11 0.33 4.33 Peru IGRA 14258.25 1.57 -9.49 Venezuela IBC 2521.6 -2.02 -7.86 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 2.2634 0.14 4.13 Mexico peso 13.0832 -0.01 -0.41 Chile peso 550 0.31 -4.35 Colombia peso 1965.75 -0.07 -1.72 Peru sol 2.808 0.00 -0.53 Argentina peso (interbank) 8.0025 0.00 -18.87 Argentina peso (parallel) 10.81 0.56 -7.49 (Reporting by Asher Levine; editing by Andrew Hay)
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