EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies near flat as oil slumps, yuan rises
(Adds closing prices) By Bruno Federowski SAO PAULO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies were largely steady on Monday as oil prices dropped to their lowest level since 2003, offsetting a rise in the Chinese yuan. Crude prices tumbled as the lifting of sanctions against Iran boosted expectations of more oil supply on the world market, dragging other commodities lower as well. Demand for high-yielding assets has also been hit by concerns over economic weakness in China, the world's top consumer of basic goods. Measures announced by the Chinese central bank to contain speculation on the yuan helped calm investors, lifting the country's currency and shares. Trading volumes were thin in most Latin American markets due to a U.S. holiday. "Foreign factors have been the main driver of currency movements this year, so markets deplete when there is a U.S. holiday," said Paulo Celso Nepomuceno, a strategist at Coinvalores brokerage in São Paulo. The Brazilian real fell 0.29 percent against the dollar to 4.0342 reals per dollar.The Mexican peso rose 0.38 percent after posting its steepest loss in nearly two and a half years on Friday. The country's Bovespa stock index fell 1.64 percent to its lowest level since 2009, after shares in oil producer Petrobras tumbled 7.16 percent as traders fretted over cuts in the state-controlled oil company's investment plans. Petrobras, as the company is known, has been kept out of most capital markets by a corruption scandal. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Friday that she would not rule out the possibility that the government may have to pump more cash into the company. Mexico's IPC stock index fell 0.59 percent, tracking oil prices lower. Retailer Walmex said on Monday it has begun the process to sell clothing retail chain Suburbia, as part of its efforts to focus on its core business. Shares in the company ended the day down 1.56 percent at 43.59 pesos ($2.39) per share. Latin American stock indexes and currencies: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 703.41 -0.82 -11.42 MSCI LatAm 1608.87 -1.04 -12.07 Brazil Bovespa 37937.27 -1.64 -12.49 Mexico IPC 40604.79 -0.59 -5.52 Chile IPSA 3474.04 -0.35 -5.60 Chile IGPA 17245.45 -0.3 -4.99 Argentina MerVal 9757.12 -2.62 -16.43 Colombia IGBC 7849.51 -2.39 -8.16 Venezuela IBC 13593.96 -6.23 -6.82 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 4.0342 -0.29 -1.82 Mexico peso 18.2005 0.38 -5.6 ($1 = 18.2135 pesos) (Editing by Nick Zieminski and Meredith Mazzilli)
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