EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies mostly gain on Italy, U.S. data

Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:54pm EST

* Fight over Brazil's month-end Ptax fuels real's gains
    * Mexico peso recovers as policymaker sees no case for rate
cut
    * Brazil real, Mexico peso each gain 0.6 pct; Chile peso
flat

    By Walter Brandimarte
    RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies
rose on Wednesday as a successful debt sale by Italy allayed
concerns about the euro zone debt crisis, while the latest U.S.
data suggested the world's largest economy was improving.
    Appetite for currencies in the region increased further
after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke remained steadfast
in the defense of the Fed's stimulus program, which supports
dollar inflows into higher-yielding emerging market assets.
 
    The Brazilian real  closed 0.6 percent higher
at 1.9731 per dollar as investors who were positioned to profit
from a currency appreciation took the opportunity to push the
exchange rate even higher near the end of the month.
    The move was part of a strategy to influence the month-end
fix of the so-called Ptax, a benchmark exchange rate calculated
by the central bank that is used in a broad range of contracts,
including foreign loans, trade, and derivatives.
    "The market is shorting dollars, so we have this fight over
the Ptax fix because nobody wants to lose money," said Reginaldo
Siaca, a manager at Advanced brokerage in Sao Paulo.
    Adding to the positive tone was U.S. economic data which
showed a gauge of planned business spending recorded its largest
increase in just over a year in January, while contracts to buy
new homes neared a three-year high last month. 
    In Mexico, the peso erased early losses to gain 0.6
percent after a central bank policymaker said he saw "no case"
for an interest rate cut, a move that could reduce the appeal of
Mexican assets. 
    "Most analysts say they are not sure whether (central bank
governor Agustin) Carstens will want to cut interest rates with
a divided board," said Pedro Tuesta, an economist with 4Cast
consultancy.
    The Chilean peso ended practically unchanged at
472,80, supported by the success of a closely watched Italian
bond sale. The deal lured bidders with yields at their highest
auction level since October, calming fears the paper would be
difficult to sell given the volatile market environment.
    The Chilean peso did not rise further because the price of
copper, the country's main export product, was curbed by
lackluster demand from China, traders said.
        
    Latin American FX prices at 2030 GMT:
    
 Currencies                           Daily  YTD pct
                                        pct   change
                            Latest   change  
 Brazil real                1.9731     0.60     3.45
                                             
 Mexico peso               12.7615     0.65     0.80
                                             
 Chile peso               472.8000     0.08     1.25
                                             
 Colombia peso           1814.1500     0.21    -2.65
                                             
 Peru sol                   2.5810     0.12    -1.16
                                             
 Argentina peso             5.0400    -0.05    -2.53

 Argentina peso             7.8000     0.26   -13.08
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