EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets slide on oil, Fed views; rouble tumbles
(Updates prices; adds rouble, Petrobras news) By Bruno Federowski SAO PAULO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Latin American financial markets sank on Monday as concern over lower oil prices drove investors toward the safe-haven dollar, while Russia's rouble plummeted on the possibility of new U.S. sanctions. Oil prices touched 5-1/2-year lows on Monday, a day after the head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the group can ride out a price slump and keep output unchanged. Lower oil prices have weighed on the currencies of oil-producing nations such as Colombia and Brazil. The Colombian peso is trading at its weakest level since April 2009. Brazil's currency, the real, slid to its weakest in 9-1/2 years, also weighed down by investor uncertainty over the Brazilian central bank's currency intervention program and the outlook for U.S. interest rates. The U.S. Federal Reserve's next policy statement, due Wednesday, will likely signal the central bank's comfort level with raising interest rates next year, a move that could spark an exodus of funds from emerging markets. Investors have also been attentive to any signal from Brazil's central bank on the outlook for its daily currency swap auction program. The intervention program offers hedging protection to local businesses and helps support the real by acting as the equivalent of future dollar sales. Central bank chief Alexandre Tombini has said the current stock of swaps was enough to satisfy hedging demands, raising expectations that the program will be wound down in 2015. Russia's rouble posted the biggest drop among emerging market currencies, weakening over 10 percent against the dollar on Monday amid concern about possible new U.S. sanctions over Ukraine as well as weak oil prices. A bill passed by the U.S. Congress after Russian markets closed on Friday set out tougher sanctions on Moscow, though U.S. President Barack Obama has not signed the bill into law. In equity markets, the MSCI Latin American stock index dropped for a sixth straight day, with Brazil's Bovespa stock index down nearly 3 percent. Preferred shares of Brazil's state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA plunged 9 percent to their lowest level since May 2005 after prosecutors indicted a second former executive at the company, known as Petrobras. On Friday the company said it had delayed the release of its unaudited earnings because of an ongoing investigation into a kickback scheme. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1718 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % change Latest change MSCI Emerging Markets 922.45 -1.7 -6.41 MSCI LatAm 2,524.97 -3.27 -18.44 Brazil Bovespa 46,593.04 -2.94 -9.54 Mexico IPC 40,351.03 -3.27 -5.56 Chile IPSA 3,753.47 -1.29 1.47 Chile IGPA 18,471.24 -1.09 1.34 Argentina MerVal 7,819.69 -5.4 45.05 Colombia IGBC 10,370.32 -1.91 -20.66 Peru IGRA 14,629.63 -0.47 -7.13 Venezuela IBC 3,868.05 0.13 41.35 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 2.6867 -1.15 -12.28 Mexico peso 14.8050 -0.27 -11.99 Chile peso 618.7500 - -14.97 Colombia peso 2431.5000 -1.09 -20.54 Peru sol 2.9620 - -5.71 Argentina peso 8.5500 0.03 -24.06 (interbank) Argentina peso 13.1500 -2.28 -23.95 (parallel) (Writing by Asher Levine; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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