EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets gain after U.S. payrolls report
By Asher Levine SAO PAULO, April 4 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks and currencies rose on Friday after U.S. payrolls data eased investor concerns that interest rates in the world's largest economy would rise sooner than expected. The MSCI Latin American stock index erased the previous session's losses, while Brazil's currency, the real , spiked nearly 2 percent against the dollar. Data on Friday showed the U.S. labor market emerged surprisingly strong from a severe winter, though slightly below Wall Street's expectations. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 192,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent. "Unemployment at this level ends up being good news for emerging markets, because investors perceive that interest rates could stay low for a longer time," said Gustavo Mendonca, an economist with Saga Capital in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's Bovespa stock index extended its longer than two-weeks rally after investors paused to take profits in the previous session. Gains were driven by the most-widely traded shares, such as state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, and mining giant Vale SA. Both stocks tend to attract foreign investors seeking exposure to local stocks due to their high liquidity. "Inflows are making all the difference," said Alvaro Bandeira, an analyst with Orama Investimentos in Rio de Janeiro. Net foreign fund flows into the Bovespa for 2014 rose to 4.2 billion reais through April 2, whereas the Bovespa saw a net outflow for the year as recently as late February. Some analysts point to funds being reallocated from Russia due to geopolitical tensions over Crimea. Local investors were also keeping their eyes on a poll scheduled to be released on Saturday. Some investors are betting that a loss by President Dilma Rousseff in October's presidential election could lead to sharp gains in the Bovespa. Mexican shares made up for Thursday's losses, driven by gains in cement producer Cemex, while Chile's bourse edged lower. Currencies strengthened across the region, with Brazil's real posting a 1.6 percent gain against the dollar. The real was further bolstered after the central bank rolled over expiring currency swap contracts on Friday, which provide investors with a hedge against depreciation in the real. "It seems like the central bank is committed to remaining in the market, despite the fall in the dollar (against the real), said Daniel Cunha, an economist with XP Investimentos in Sao Paulo, adding that the program was likely maintained in order to avoid fueling currency volatility. Elsewhere in Latin America, Chile's peso strengthened slightly, in line with other emerging markets, despite a drop in the price of copper, the country's main export. The Mexican peso strengthened about 0.5 percent. Most of Mexico's central bankers think that a spike in inflation has likely passed and that short-term risks to growth would push them to cut their growth outlook, minutes released on Friday showed. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1737 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1003.83 0.37 -0.25 MSCI LatAm 3248.77 1.45 0.04 Brazil Bovespa 51671.05 0.51 0.32 Mexico IPC 40858.38 0.73 -4.37 Chile IPSA 3794.23 0.02 2.57 Chile IGPA 18636.19 0.04 2.24 Argentina MerVal 6425.45 -1.12 19.19 Colombia IGBC 13988.53 -0.62 7.02 Peru IGRA 14348.39 0.46 -8.92 Venezuela IBC 2523.56 0.01 -7.78 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 2.2452 1.62 4.97 Mexico peso 13.052 0.52 -0.17 Chile peso 555.4 0.31 -5.28 Colombia peso 1952.24 0.78 -1.04 Peru sol 2.808 0.00 -0.53 Argentina peso (interbank) 8.0000 0.03 -18.84 Argentina peso (parallel) 10.56 1.23 -5.30 (Additional reporting by Bruno Federowski and Priscila Jordao; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
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