EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil Bovespa falls 2 pct as education companies slide
RIO DE JANEIRO, March 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks were among the worst performers in Latin American equity markets on Thursday as education companies fell sharply on concerns about a state-run student loan program. Key stock indexes fell across the region amidst declines in global markets after Saudi Arabia and its allies launched air strikes on Yemen, increasing geopolitical risk and driving oil prices higher. Latin American stocks tracked by a key MSCI index for the region slid 2.3 percent, while Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index lost 2.1 percent. Benchmark stock indexes in Mexico and Chile declined almost 1 percent. Brazilian education companies Kroton and Estacio Participacoes fell 6.2 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively, after interim Education Minister Luiz Claudio Costa said there was no guarantee the government would grant more student loans through its FIES program in the second half of the year. Telefonica Brasil SA lost 2.3 percent after it announced plans for a share offering to raise money for the purchase of broadband provider GVT. In the foreign exchange market, nearly all Latin American currencies weakened on fears of higher U.S. interest rates and geopolitical risks. The Brazilian real was an exception, rising 0.4 percent in a correction from Wednesday's 2 percent decline. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1630 GMT Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change Latest MSCI Emerging 963.22 -1.32 2.07 Markets MSCI LatAm 2436.73 -2.31 -8.56 Brazil Bovespa 50801.97 -2.04 1.59 Mexico IPC 43253.44 -0.87 0.25 Chile IPSA 3866.21 -0.8 0.40 Chile IGPA 18873.32 -0.7 0.02 Argentina MerVal 10761.359 -3.62 25.44 Colombia IGBC 9968.23 -0.02 -14.32 Peru IGRA 12380.48 -0.27 -16.32 Venezuela IBC 5002.5 -0.49 29.64 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.1887 0.37 -16.66 Mexico peso 15.09 -0.69 -2.29 Chile peso 621.6 -0.30 -2.45 Colombia peso 2556.64 -0.61 -6.60 Peru sol 3.081 -0.19 -3.31 Argentina peso 8.8050 -0.03 -2.90 (interbank) Argentina peso 12.75 0.47 9.80 (parallel) (Reporting by Walter Brandimarte; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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