EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies weaken on Fed official's comments, U.S. data
By Bruno Federowski SAO PAULO, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies weakened on Tuesday as comments by a high-ranking Federal Reserve policymaker and strong U.S. economic data kept investors guessing about the possibility of a September rate hike. Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer told Bloomberg TV that the U.S. job market is nearing full strength and the pace of rate increases will depend on the economy's health. But he refrained from commenting on the timing of the next Fed rate hike, saying that will depend on the incoming economic figures. Data on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer sentiment rose to 101.1 in August, handily beating expectations for a reading of 97.0. Fischer had said on Friday that Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech at the global central bankers conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was "consistent" with the possibility of a September hike, catapulting the dollar's value. Markets are now focused on the U.S. employment report for August, which is scheduled to be released later this week. "Investors continue to focus on Friday's U.S. nonfarm payroll data for guidance on the timing of the next Fed rate increase," Scotiabank analysts wrote in a client note. A decline in oil prices also weighed on the currencies of crude exporters, such as the Mexican and Colombian pesos. Stock markets were mixed in thin trading, with activity in Brazilian markets especially subdued as traders monitored the Senate impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff. The 81 senators will make final statements on Tuesday and vote for a verdict on Wednesday morning, said Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, who is presiding over the trial. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index slipped 0.4 percent. Education company Estácio Participações SA was the biggest loser, with its shares falling after its chief executive officer quit, citing personal and family issues. Kroton also is currently in the process of being acquired by its bigger rival Kroton SA, whose shares fell 1.5 percent. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1440 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change Latest MSCI Emerging Markets 898.95 0.33 12.82 MSCI LatAm 2413.31 -0.71 32.83 Brazil Bovespa 58463.36 -0.25 34.86 Mexico IPC 47631.92 0.07 10.83 Chile IPSA 4161.44 0.15 13.08 Chile IGPA 20628.68 0.19 13.65 Argentina MerVal 16111.82 0.48 38.00 Colombia IGBC 10121.57 0.24 18.42 Venezuela IBC 11936.38 0.16 -18.18 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.2595 -0.86 21.09 Mexico peso 18.7830 -0.84 -8.27 Chile peso 674.4 -0.54 5.23 Colombia peso 2928.8 -0.36 8.21 Peru sol 3.377 0.00 1.10 Argentina peso (interbank) 15.1300 -0.17 -14.19 Argentina peso (parallel) 15.46 0.19 -7.70 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Paul Simao)
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