EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies up as U.S. data points to later rate hike
SAO PAULO, May 14 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies strengthened on Thursday after U.S. economic data suggested that interest rates in the world's largest economy could rise later rather than sooner. Equities markets were mixed, although the regional MSCI Latin American stock index remained in positive territory for the second straight day. Data on Thursday showed inflation in the United States remained muted in April due to a strong dollar and lower oil prices. That, along with signs of modest economic growth early in the second quarter, encouraged investors to bet that the Federal Reserve would probably not raise interest rates until later in the year, making higher-yielding assets such as Latin American securities more attractive. Nearly every currency in the region gained against the greenback, with the Brazilian real returning to the three-per-dollar level. Most analysts see that exchange rate as a floor for the currency, given ongoing uncertainty over the health of Brazil's economy and doubts over the success of a recently implemented austerity program. The Chilean peso strengthened for the third straight session, rising to its strongest level against the dollar in 5-1/2 months. Investors have been mostly optimistic about the copper-exporting nation following the appointment of economist Rodrigo Valdes as its finance minister earlier in the week. In local stocks, Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index edged lower on a decline in shares of state-run lender Banco do Brasil SA. The bank on Thursday reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and showed deteriorating trends in loan-loss provisions, defaults and interest income. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1638 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1035.74 0.18 8.11 MSCI LatAm 2721.17 0.52 -0.75 Brazil Bovespa 56210.79 -0.29 12.40 Mexico IPC 45245.43 0.46 4.87 Chile IPSA 4082.89 -0.39 6.02 Chile IGPA 19812.54 -0.3 4.99 Argentina MerVal 12223.369 0.25 42.48 Colombia IGBC 10596.07 0.12 -8.93 Peru IGRA - - - Venezuela IBC 5666.62 0.51 107.07 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.0023 1.14 -21.50 Mexico peso 15.0988 1.10 -13.70 Chile peso 595.3 1.00 -11.62 Colombia peso 2396.2 -0.38 -19.37 Peru sol 3.149 0.07 -11.31 Argentina peso 8.9425 -0.03 -27.40 (interbank) Argentina peso 12.55 0.32 -20.32 (parallel) (Reporting by Asher Levine; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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