EMERGING MARKETS-Mexico, Colombia peso rise on China stimulus hopes
By Bruno Federowski SAO PAULO, March 1 (Reuters) - The Mexican and Colombian pesos strengthened on Tuesday as investors saw weak Chinese economic data strengthening the case for more stimulus after unexpected monetary easing a day before. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) announced on Monday a cut in the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves. Many traders bet that China would take additional steps to shore up its economy, speculation that gained traction after surveys showed that activity in China's manufacturing and services sectors slowed in February. Stronger-than-expected U.S. economic figures also helped the Mexican peso strengthen below 18 per U.S. dollar. Traders said that triggered stop-loss orders that kept the currency in the black despite lower oil prices. Latin American currencies have been hard hit this year by a crude supply glut and concerns over China's economy. The Mexican peso has taken more punishment than its peers as many traders use the highly liquid currency to hedge their exposure to Latin American assets in general. However, this gap has nearly closed since the country's central bank strengthened its intervention policy last month. The Argentine peso fell to a record low at 16 per U.S. dollar as demand for the U.S. currency remained strong after the foreign exchange market was freed late last year. The currency declined even after Argentina reached an agreement with its main holdout creditors, paving the way for it to return to global credit markets. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1555 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change Latest MSCI Emerging Markets 752.40 1.63 -6.78 MSCI LatAm 1832.41 1.57 -1.41 Brazil Bovespa 43615.89 1.92 0.61 Mexico IPC 43880.44 0.38 2.10 Chile IPSA 3736.29 0.55 1.52 Chile IGPA 18338.69 0.44 1.03 Argentina MerVal 13086.74 -0.22 12.09 Colombia IGBC 9278.22 0.97 8.55 Venezuela IBC 16463.85 0.43 12.86 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.9765 0.62 -0.74 Mexico peso 17.9200 1.20 -3.85 Chile peso 694.5 0.19 2.19 Colombia peso 3270.72 0.60 -3.10 Peru sol 3.52 0.06 -3.01 Argentina peso (interbank) 15.9200 -0.75 -18.45 Argentina peso (parallel) 15.66 -0.32 -8.88 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Toni Reinhold)
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