SAO PAULO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Yields on Brazilian interest rate futures <0#DIJ:> fell across the curve on Thursday, as unexpectedly weaker retail sales data and the release of the central bank’s policy minutes lowered expectations for a near-term interest-rate hike.
The MSCI Latin American stock index edged higher and was on track to end a five-session slump, while most major currencies in the region were largely unchanged against the dollar.
Brazil’s central bank on Thursday released the minutes from its latest policy-setting meeting, signaling it would keep rates at the current 11 percent level for some time as weaker economic growth begins to pull down stubbornly high inflation.
“At the margin they sound more comfortable with inflation,” Citi analyst Kenneth Lam said. “Overall the minutes are considered neutral relative to market expectations.”
Data released later in the morning showed Brazil’s retail sales in July posted their biggest monthly decline in nearly six years, suggesting an economic recession may have worsened and prompting investors to view a rate hike as less likely.
Brazil’s Bovespa stock index fluctuated, though eventually settled in positive territory in the early afternoon. The gain came after six straight sessions of losses, as investors took profits following a recent rally fueled by the outlook for Brazil’s presidential election next month.
Brazilian stocks tend to rise when polls show declining support for left-leaning President Dilma Rousseff, whose economic policies have been criticized by many in the market.
Shares of iron-ore producer Vale SA fell as iron-ore prices hit their lowest level since September 2009.
The Mexican and Chilean benchmark stock indexes both fell about 0.4 percent.
Shares in Mexico’s leading broadcaster, Grupo Televisa , slid a day after it said it would sell its stake in Iusacell, the country’s No. 3 wireless operator, at a loss.
Most currencies in the region were nearly unchanged from the previous session, though Colombia’s peso weakened about 0.6 percent against the dollar.
Colombia’s government backed away from plans to increase its 2015 budget and to lower the threshold for the payment of a wealth tax, Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas confirmed on Wednesday, amid criticism by industry and opposition figures. (Editing by Paul Simao)