EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies mostly firm after Fed minutes
SAO PAULO, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies strengthened on Thursday as higher oil prices and division in the Federal Reserve over whether to raise interest rates soon offset bullish comments by a U.S. policymaker. The minutes of the U.S. central bank's last policy meeting released on Wednesday showed that policymakers agree that more economic data is needed before tightening monetary policy. Many traders had expected a more direct sign that the Fed intended to increase rates later this year, which could lure capital away from higher-yielding - but riskier - emerging markets. New York Fed President William Dudley has repeatedly pointed to strength in the U.S. labor market, going so far as to mention a possible September hike. A rise in prices of oil also supported demand for assets from crude exporters, with the Colombian peso strengthening over 1 percent. The Brazilian real, however, weakened 0.6 percent, weighed down by the central bank's intervention policy. Comments by interim President Michel Temer demonstrating concern over the real's recent strength fostered speculation that the government could aim to shield exports from currency appreciation. The country's benchmark Bovespa stock index fell 0.4 percent on profit-taking after it touched a near two-year high the day before. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1615 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily YTD pct pct change change MSCI Emerging Markets 915.48 0.64 14.55 MSCI LatAm 2,486.56 -0.3 36.31 Brazil Bovespa 59,117.08 -0.35 36.37 Mexico IPC 48,105.56 -0.32 11.93 Chile IPSA 4,127.85 -0.11 12.16 Chile IGPA 20,416.12 -0.11 12.48 Argentina MerVal 15,504.02 0.66 32.79 Colombia IGBC 9,921.55 -0.05 16.08 Venezuela IBC 12,185.14 0.6 -16.47 Currencies Daily YTD pct pct change Latest change Brazil real 3.2286 -0.56 22.25 Mexico peso 18.0710 0.33 -4.65 Chile peso 656 0.27 8.19 Colombia peso 2,876.97 1.13 10.16 Peru sol 3.305 0.15 3.30 Argentina peso (interbank) 14.8900 -0.60 -12.81 Argentina peso (parallel) 15.4 0.19 -7.34 (Por Bruno Federowski, editing by G Crosse)
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