EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX hold near highs after Fed minutes
(Adds release of Fed minutes, Brazil bank ruling) MEXICO CITY, May 21 (Reuters) - Latin American markets were little changed on Wednesday, with currencies holding near recent highs, after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting backed bets of a slow withdrawal of U.S. stimulus. Brazil's real firmed 0.34 percent to 2.2085 per dollar. It has been trading in a narrow range since hitting a more than five-month high in April following a recent cycle of interest rate hikes that boosted the real's appeal. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting showed some policymakers thought it was too early to confirm stronger growth is taking hold. The minutes were seen suggesting the Fed would keep interest rates low for some time, which would support demand for higher-yielding emerging market assets. Mexico's peso dipped 0.14 percent to 12.9280 per dollar after the central bank of Latin America's No. 2 economy cut its growth estimate for 2014 from between 3-4 percent to between 2.3-3.3 percent after a weak start to the year. Still, the peso is trading near a five-month high that it hit last week. The MSCI Latin American stock index edged up nearly 0.1 percent after a drop in the previous session on a slump in Chilean stocks. MSCI's broader emerging equity index rose 0.2 percent to hold near 6-1/2 month highs. Brazil's Bovespa stock index slipped 0.31 percent as bank shares fell after the country's second highest court issued a ruling that laid the ground for financial firms to have to pay lost interest to depositors dating from economic crises in the 1980s and 1990s. The nation's supreme court still has to rule on constitutional issues of the case and decide whether banks will have to pay compensation or not. Shares in top lender Itau Unibanco fell 2.13 percent while rival Banco Bradesco lost 2.54 percent. A closely watched Brazilian electoral poll is due Thursday. Recent polls showing a decline in President Dilma Rousseff's approval rating ahead of October's election have driven big gains in the stock market as shareholders hold out hope for a more market-friendly administration. Mexican stocks were little changed, while Chilean markets were closed for a holiday. Stock indexes Latest daily % YTD % change change MSCI LatAm 3,314.65 0.09 3.56 Brazil Bovespa 52,203.37 -0.31 1.35 Mexico IPC 41,828.98 0.06 -2.10 Chile IPSA 3,881.35 -1.37 4.92 Chile IGPA 19,029.89 -1.17 4.40 Argentina MerVal 7,261.07 0.59 34.69 Colombia IGBC 13,648.78 1.30 4.42 Peru IGRA 15,642.04 -0.22 -0.71 Venezuela IBC 2,188.40 -0.06 -20.03 Currencies Latest daily % YTD % change change Brazil real 2.2085 0.34 6.72 Mexico peso 12.9200 0.06 0.85 Chile peso 552.8000 Closed -4.83 Colombia peso 1910.6000 0.57 1.12 Peru sol 2.7890 0.04 0.14 Argentina peso (interbank) 8.0600 0.03 -19.45 Argentina peso (parallel) 12.0500 -2.32 -17.01 (Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; editing by Andrew Hay)
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