EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets gain on U.S. data; fiscal outlook boosts real
SAO PAULO, April 1 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies and stocks gained on Wednesday after weak U.S. economic data supported ideas that interest rates in the world's largest economy may take longer to rise than many investors are expecting. Nearly every currency in the region strengthened against the dollar while the MSCI Latin American stock index notched its biggest intraday gain in nearly two weeks. Disappointing data on U.S. manufacturing and job growth on Wednesday helped push investors into riskier assets on bets that an extended period of low U.S. rates would support the search for higher returns in emerging markets. Brazil's real, which has fallen nearly 16 percent this year on concerns over slow economic growth and an ongoing corruption scandal at state-owned oil firm Petrobras, rose nearly 1 percent. The currency was also supported by investor optimism that President Dilma Rousseff's government would find less resistance from lawmakers over fiscal austerity measures necessary to ward off a credit downgrade. Finance Minister Joaquim Levy's Senate hearing on Tuesday and recent comments made by Rousseff reassured some that the government would do all it can to achieve its fiscal goals this year. "Levy very much reinforced the importance of the fiscal adjustment at the Senate hearing," said Joao Paulo De Gracia Correa, a currency manager at Brazilian brokerage Correparti. Other currencies in the region strengthened as well, with the Chilean and Colombian pesos both up about 1 percent against the dollar. Brazil's Bovespa stock index headed for its highest close of the year, boosted by preferred shares of Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, and lenders such as Itau Unibanco Holding SA. Foreign investors seeking exposure to Brazilian assets tend to favor widely-traded stocks such as these due to their high levels of liquidity. Shares of telecom Oi SA soared 14 percent following a proposed new shareholder accord and cost-cutting moves reported by Reuters. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1812 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 984.36 1 1.91 MSCI LatAm 2518.58 2.74 -10.13 Brazil Bovespa 52458.52 2.56 4.90 Mexico IPC 44057.32 0.76 2.11 Chile IPSA 3923.2 0.16 1.88 Chile IGPA 19121.96 0.16 1.33 Argentina MerVal 11077.829 2.22 29.13 Colombia IGBC 10152.54 1.54 -12.74 Peru IGRA 12580.79 0.95 -14.96 Venezuela IBC 5449.19 5.49 41.22 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.1563 1.06 -15.80 Mexico peso 15.113 1.01 -2.44 Chile peso 617.7 1.22 -1.83 Colombia peso 2574.4 0.96 -7.24 Peru sol 3.097 -0.03 -3.81 Argentina peso 8.8250 -0.03 -3.12 (interbank) Argentina peso 12.5 0.96 12.00 (parallel) (Reporting by Flavia Bohone; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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