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Mercados

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX in tight range, stocks rise as investors reassess risk

    * Chilean central bank rates decision awaited 
    * Brazil bank lending rose in 2019 
    * China virus fears still linger 

    By Shreyashi Sanyal
    Jan 29 (Reuters) - Stocks in Latin America traded higher on
Wednesday, while currencies remained stuck in tight ranges
against a stronger dollar, as investors reassessed exposure to
riskier assets amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China. 
    MSCI'S index for Latin American stocks rose
0.4%, rising for the second straight session. 
    Latin American assets were faced with a hefty sell-off at
the beginning of the week as the virus outbreak stoked fears of
potential economic damage to the world's second-biggest economy.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that
preventing and containing the new coronavirus, which has killed 
133 people, remained a grim and complex task.
    "The coronavirus continues to spread... despite all the
negative virus headlines, risk appetite is roaring higher,"
Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, wrote in a note. 
    Currencies in Latin America traded in a narrow range against
the dollar, which held at near two-month highs. 
    The Chilean peso weakened slightly ahead of the
Central Bank of Chile's decision on interest rates, expected at
2100 GMT. 
    "We expect BCCh to stay put at today's meeting. They will
likely keep a cautious stance as the FX intervention program is
still open and political uncertainty may rise ahead of the late
April referendum," said Dirk Willer, head of emerging market
strategy at Citi Research, and Kenneth Lam, an emerging markets
FX strategist, wrote in a note.
    Violent anti-government protests in Chile which erupted in
October caused its peso currency to fall nearly 15%, but the
central bank is still hopeful that the relative calm in recent
weeks will be enough to keep the country out of recession.
    
    Other major Latin American currencies - Brazil's real
, Colombia's peso and Mexico's peso - barely
moved.  
    In Brazil, central bank figures showed bank lending and the
financial health of borrowers in Latin America's largest economy
ended 2019 on a positive note, as default ratios and lending
spreads fell against a backdrop of strong credit growth.
   
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1456 GMT
    Stock indexes             Latest    Daily % change
 MSCI Emerging Markets         1096.57            -0.47
                                        
 MSCI LatAm                    2837.54              0.4
                                        
 Brazil Bovespa              115980.46            -0.43
                                        
 Mexico IPC                   44761.63              0.1
                                        
 Chile IPSA                    4580.13             0.21
                                        
 Argentina MerVal             41340.79            1.252
                                        
 Colombia COLCAP               1627.40             0.17 Currencies             Latest    Daily % change
 Brazil real                    4.2037            -0.24
                                        
 Mexico peso                   18.7330            -0.09
                                        
 Chile peso                      787.6             0.10
                                        
 Colombia peso                 3392.32            -0.23
 Peru sol                       3.3448            -0.20
                                        
 Argentina peso                60.2200            -0.07
 (interbank)                            
                                        
 
 (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru)
  
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