February 26, 2020 / 3:30 PM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Virus fears keep Latam FX pressured, Argentine peso hits 6-month low

    By Susan Mathew
    Feb 26 (Reuters) - Argentina's peso touched a six-month low
on Wednesday, and most other most Latin American currencies
continued a coronavirus-fueled slide as the outbreak spread to
more countries.
    As Argentina returned from an extended weekend, the peso
 fell 0.4% to 62.09 to the dollar, while the Merval stock
index plummeted as much as 6.6% as they caught up with
the rout across global markets this week.
    Mexico's peso looked to extend losses to a sixth
session running, down 0.5%, against a stronger dollar, while 
the Colombian peso touched a two-week low.
    "The mood in the market is cautious as market participants
closely monitor the spread of the outbreak," said Wilson
Ferrarezi, an economist at TS Lombard in Sao Paulo.
    Brazil markets, also returning from a long weekend, are
scheduled to open at 1 pm local time (1600 GMT) on account of
Ash Wednesday, and analysts expect them to fall as the country
reported its first case of the virus. 
    Frankfurt-listed depository receipts of Brazilian oil firm
Petroleo Brasileiro, planemaker Embraer and
lender Itau Unibanco lost between 2.6% and 4% amid a
report of the country's first case of the virus.
    "For Brazil, the virus will impact the trade balance as a
hit to commodities exports and a fall in commodities prices will
hamper export revenues," TS Lombard's Ferrarezi said.
    As the virus spreads to more parts of Asia, Europe and the
Middle East, the number of infected cases has risen to about
80,000 globally, while the death toll exceeds 2,700. 
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on
Tuesday issued a warning to citizens to prepare for the virus
spread, saying it was not a question of if, but when, the virus
would become a pandemic.
   Fears have risen that the economic fallout from the travel
curbs, disruptions to operations and falling demand might be of
a far greater degree than previously anticipated. MSCI's index
of world stocks has lost $3.3 trillion over the
last four sessions.
    Chile stocks fell to a three-year low, down 0.4%,
while the currency eked out gains. 
    Chile's finance minister, Ignacio Briones, said he expected
the outbreak to have a "limited" impact on the country's economy
despite its dependence on China for the export of its key
commodity, copper.
    Colombia's main stock index rose half a percent
after a four-session sell-off when it declined almost 4%.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1458 GMT:
    
   Stock indexes            Latest    Daily %
                                      change
 MSCI Emerging Markets       1050.62    -0.56
                                      
 MSCI LatAm                  2659.38     0.12
                                      
 Brazil Bovespa                    -        -
                                      
 Mexico IPC                        -        -
                                      
 Chile IPSA                  4351.66    -0.22
                                      
 Argentina MerVal           36342.34   -5.855
                                      
 Colombia COLCAP             1621.09     0.53
                                      
                                             
       Currencies           Latest    Daily %
                                      change
 Brazil real                       -        -
                                      
 Mexico peso                 19.2020    -0.64
                                      
 Chile peso                    810.2     0.12
                                      
 Colombia peso                3433.9     0.02
 Peru sol                     3.4108    -0.02
                                      
 Argentina peso              62.0750    -0.38
 (interbank)                          
                                      
 
 (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru;)
  
Nuestros Estándares:Los principios Thomson Reuters
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