EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets extend rally ahead of U.S. data, holiday
SAO PAULO, April 2 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies extended the previous session's rally on Thursday as investors pulled back from the dollar ahead of Friday's closely-watched U.S. payrolls report. Equities also advanced, with the MSCI Latin American stock index up about 1.3 percent. Stock markets in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela were closed for local holidays. All of Latin America's major financial markets will be closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday. Investors remained focused on the U.S. non-farm payrolls data, which is likely to influence the perspective for U.S. interest rates. 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. "Today is basically a continuation of yesterday," said Alfredo Barbutti, chief economist with BGC brokerage in Brazil, adding that Wednesday's data had swayed the outlook for Friday's numbers. "Here in Brazil we've also been seeing a lot of foreigners coming in for fixed income assets, which is influencing the currency." The Brazilian real strengthened for the fourth straight session, gaining more than 1 percent to trade near 3.14 per dollar. Statements from Finance Minister Joaquim Levy and President Dilma Rousseff expressing confidence in the achievement of this year's fiscal savings target have also buoyed the currency. Exchange rate moves elsewhere in the region were more muted, though Chile's peso was on track to reach its strongest level since mid-January. Brazil's Bovespa stock index climbed for the third session in four, rising above 53,000 points for the first time since early December. Widely-traded shares such as state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, and lender Itau Unibanco Holding SA, both of which tend to attract a large share of foreign investors seeking exposure to Brazilian assets, drove gains. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1613 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 995.05 1.23 2.78 MSCI LatAm 2552.65 1.31 -7.63 Brazil Bovespa 53218.86 1.71 6.42 Mexico IPC 44202.94 1.09 2.45 Chile IPSA 3957.43 0.46 2.76 Chile IGPA 19257.24 0.38 2.05 Argentina MerVal 11071.68 2.16 29.06 Colombia IGBC 10175.16 1.76 -12.54 Peru IGRA 12717.95 2.06 -14.03 Venezuela IBC 5449.19 5.49 41.22 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.1378 1.08 -15.31 Mexico peso 15.0581 0.62 -2.09 Chile peso 615.5 0.36 -1.48 Colombia peso 2570.5 0.08 -7.10 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 Asher Levine; Editing by Grant McCool)
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