EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies, stocks down as Fed rate hike looms
By Bruno Federowski SAO PAULO, May 19 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks and currencies fell on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve policy minutes revived bets on an interest rate increase as soon as next month. The minutes of the U.S. central bank's April meeting showed officials believed a June hike would be warranted if data suggests faster growth, rising inflation and solid employment. Higher U.S. interest rates would in turn raise borrowing costs in emerging markets. Weakness in commodities including iron ore .IO62-CNI=SI also weighed on demand for assets from exporters of basic products. Crude prices fell below $48 per barrel, pressured by an unexpected build in U.S. stocks. Shares of Brazilian oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA slipped 0.6 percent, weighing on the country's benchmark Bovespa stock index. The Mexican peso touched a three-month low, triggering speculation that the central bank could act to buffer the slump through spot dollar sales or by increasing interest rates. The bank resorted to both measures at an impromptu meeting in February as the peso tumbled to its record lows near 19.50 per U.S. dollar. A majority of the central bank's policymakers believed the peso could depreciate even further, with one saying there is space to tighten policy without significantly affecting economic activity, the minutes of the bank's last policy meeting showed. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1500 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 782.55 -1.47 0.01 MSCI LatAm 2059.83 -2.42 15.37 Brazil Bovespa 49795.39 -1.54 14.87 Mexico IPC 45181.03 -0.81 5.13 Chile IPSA 3939.16 -0.69 7.04 Chile IGPA 19391.78 -0.61 6.83 Argentina MerVal 12401.92 -3.33 6.22 Colombia IGBC 9808.75 -0.59 14.76 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.5933 -0.88 9.84 Mexico peso 18.5050 -0.32 -6.89 Chile peso 695.2 -0.72 2.09 Colombia peso 3048.07 -0.83 3.98 Peru sol 3.3369 -0.33 2.31 Argentina peso (interbank) 14.1350 0.00 -8.15 Argentina peso (parallel) 14.63 0.55 -2.46 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by David Gregorio)
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