EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets rise as China data calms investors
By Asher Levine SAO PAULO, April 16 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks rose on Wednesday as investors breathed a sigh of relief after economic growth data from China, a major trade partner for the region, came in better than expected. The MSCI Latin American stock index rose its most in over a week, while most currencies strengthened. China's economy grew 7.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, beating forecasts of 7.3 percent and calming investor concerns over a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy after a string of recent soft numbers. China is Brazil's top trading partner and a big purchaser of Latin American commodity exports such as iron ore, soybeans and copper. Brazil's Bovespa stock index clawed back some of the previous session's losses, rising to about 51,000 points. Shares of banks and commodities firms led the way in spite of weak Brazilian economic activity data released before the market opened. "The market had already priced in the (Brazil) data and focused more today on the more positive data from China overnight," said Ricardo Zeno, a partner with AZ Investimentos in Sao Paulo. "The market should remain in this channel between 50,000 points and 52,000 points. I don't see many motives for the market to go beyond these levels until (October's presidential) elections." Elsewhere in Latin America, Mexico's IPC index erased the previous session's loss, though gains were limited by a 2.9 percent fall in conglomerate Alfa. The company reported a sharp drop in first-quarter profit late on Tuesday. Chile's IPSA index rose for the third day in four, driven by an over 10 percent gain in shares of Empresas La Polar . A local trader said the gains were most likely driven by the company's recent efforts to ameliorate its debt load though discussions with creditors. In currency markets, the Mexican and Colombian pesos both strengthened about 0.4 percent against the dollar, with traders citing greater risk appetite following the China data. The Brazilian real and Chilean peso fluctuated near unchanged levels through afternoon trading. A Reuters poll on Wednesday suggested the next two years would be more challenging for Latin American economies than previously thought, with prospects for slower growth and higher inflation defying recent market optimism about emerging markets. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1627 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1002.43 0.25 -0.28 MSCI LatAm 3242.01 0.85 0.43 Brazil Bovespa 50996.69 1.07 -0.99 Mexico IPC 40753.19 0.67 -4.62 Chile IPSA 3901.68 0.62 5.47 Chile IGPA 19115.06 0.55 4.87 Argentina MerVal 6368.47 0.82 18.13 Colombia IGBC 13767.31 -0.3 5.32 Peru IGRA 14662.82 0.3 -6.92 Venezuela IBC 2472.45 0 -9.65 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 2.2319 0.21 5.60 Mexico peso 13.0382 0.47 -0.06 Chile peso 556.6 -0.14 -5.48 Colombia peso 1927.64 0.36 0.23 Peru sol 2.781 0.04 0.43 Argentina peso (interbank) 8.0000 0.03 -18.84 Argentina peso (parallel) 10.35 0.48 -3.38 (Additional reporting by Anthony Esposito in Santiago; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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