EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies steady after Fed; Argentine peso plummets

jueves 17 de diciembre de 2015 12:59 GYT

(Adds Argentine peso, BTG Pactual shares)
    By Bruno Federowski
    SAO PAULO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies were
mostly steady on Thursday as traders took an increase in U.S.
interest rates as a sign of confidence in the world's largest
economy, while the Argentine peso plunged after the government
lifted currency controls.
    Argentina's peso plummeted 28 percent,
representing its biggest daily devaluation in decades, after the
country's new government floated the currency. Newly inducted
President Mauricio Macri has promised to implement free-market
reforms in an attempt to heal the crisis-ridden economy.
    "Overall, it appears the government's main goal is to manage
the one-off peso devaluation while minimizing the risk of FX
overshooting," wrote JP Morgan analyst Iker Cabiedes in a client
    Trade was muted in other markets a day after the U.S.
Federal Reserve raised benchmark rates for the first time in
nearly a decade. 
    Although higher U.S. rates could pull investment away from
emerging markets, Latin American currencies mostly strengthened
after the announcement. Traders took comfort in Fed Chair Janet
Yellen's assurance that the bank will proceed slowly with hikes
over the following months. 
    Wall Street's top banks expect the Fed to next raise rates
in the first quarter of next year, a Reuters poll showed.
    "For the market, this is the best of both worlds," said
Reginaldo Galhardo, head of foreign exchange trading at Treviso
brokerage in São Paulo.
    The Mexican peso weakened about 0.9 percent after posting
its best 6-day stretch in about three weeks on Wednesday. The
Brazilian real, which had already closed at the time of the Fed
announcement, rose 0.4 percent while the country's Bovespa stock
index advanced 1.8 percent.
    Shares of Grupo BTG Pactual SA jumped 11 percent
after a Supreme Court Justice said that André Esteves, the
bank's former chief executive, will be released from prison.
Esteves has been in jail since Nov. 25 on charges of seeking to
obstruct a corruption probe. 
    Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1620 GMT
 Stock indexes                               daily %    YTD %
                                              change   change
 MSCI Emerging Markets               797.37     0.89   -17.36
 MSCI LatAm                         1897.55     1.17   -31.24
 Brazil Bovespa                    45791.67     1.72    -8.43
 Mexico IPC                         43412.3    -0.04     0.62
 Chile IPSA                         3658.61     1.08    -4.99
 Chile IGPA                        18025.46     0.95    -4.48
 Argentina MerVal                 12126.279     0.74    41.35
 Colombia IGBC                      8467.09     0.65   -27.23
 Venezuela IBC                     14533.18     0.13   276.63
 Currencies                                  daily %    YTD %
                                              change   change
 Brazil real                         3.9075     0.39   -31.99
 Mexico peso                        17.1224    -0.87   -13.89
 Chile peso                           708.3     0.01   -14.39
 Colombia peso                       3329.5     0.08   -28.28
 Peru sol                            3.3751    -0.21   -11.74
 Argentina peso (interbank)         13.7000   -28.27   -37.59
 Argentina peso (parallel)            14.25     2.25    -1.75

 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli
and Bill Rigby)