EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets mixed as focus turns to local politics
SAO PAULO, March 31 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies and stocks were mixed on Tuesday as investors digested local political developments, while lower oil prices weighed on markets in Colombia and Mexico. In Brazil, attention was focused on comments made by Finance Minister Joaquim Levy at a Senate hearing on Tuesday. Levy warned lawmakers that the country's investment grade remains at risk should a fiscal adjustment program fail to deliver better budget numbers. He also said Brazil was ready to raise taxes if needed. The Brazilian real strengthened for the second straight session as investors took some comfort in Levy's comments, said Reginaldo Galhardo, head of currency trading at Brazil's Treviso brokerage. In general, any steps to curb the budget deficit and ward off a credit downgrade is viewed as positive by the business community. Politics were also center stage in Peru, where the Nuevo Sol fell through the psychological barrier of 3.1 per dollar after Congress voted to censure the prime minister, setting in motion her resignation. Colombia's peso weakened for the fourth session in five, tracking a drop in oil prices. Petroleum is Colombia's top export. Fellow petroleum producer Mexico also saw a decline in its peso, which slid for the sixth straight session. Mexico's central bank sold $52 million on Tuesday at an average price of 15.2470 pesos per dollar, part of an auction program to boost foreign exchange liquidity following the recent slide in the currency. In equities markets, Brazil's Bovespa stock index edged higher, led by banking shares, while Mexico's IPC index pared back part of Monday's gains. A Reuters poll released on Tuesday showed investors remained cautiously optimistic on the outlook for both indexes, with the Bovespa expected to hit 53,200 points by year-end and the IPC forecast to reach 47,187 points. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1709 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 974.94 0.62 1.32 MSCI LatAm 2451.61 0.83 -10.86 Brazil Bovespa 51379.53 0.27 2.74 Mexico IPC 43785.3 -0.31 1.48 Chile IPSA 3910.7 -0.05 1.55 Chile IGPA 19066.85 -0.04 1.04 Argentina MerVal 11004.689 0.44 28.27 Colombia IGBC 9984.79 0.59 -14.18 Peru IGRA 12420.68 0.03 -16.04 Venezuela IBC 5165.43 4.41 33.86 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.2016 0.92 -16.99 Mexico peso 15.268 -0.05 -3.43 Chile peso 625.2 0.25 -3.01 Colombia peso 2598 -0.89 -8.08 Peru sol 3.096 -0.03 -3.78 Argentina peso 8.8200 -0.03 -3.06 (interbank) Argentina peso 12.57 1.67 11.38 (parallel) (Reporting by Flavia Bohone and Asher Levine Editing by W Simon)
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