EMERGING MARKETS-Global currency selloff drags Latam stocks to 4-1/2-year low

Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:37pm EST

* Brazil Bovespa down 1.1 pct

* Mexico IPC falls 1.33 pct

By Asher Levine

SAO PAULO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Global emerging market stocks plunged on Friday as a worldwide currency selloff, worries over slower growth in China and a roll-back of U.S. monetary stimulus took Latin American stocks to a 4-1/2-year low.

The MSCI global emerging equities index fell for the second consecutive day, losing 1.46 percent to close at its lowest level in more than four months.

Key emerging market currencies have been battered recently with the Turkish lira plunging to record lows against the dollar, the Argentine peso suffering its largest one-day decline in more than a decade and the South African rand falling to a five-year low.

The MSCI Latin American stock index fell 2.14 percent to 2,916.73, its lowest level since July 2009.

In Latin America, Brazil's real slid to a five-month trough, thanks in part to currency woes in neighboring Argentina, whose rapid currency devaluation points to weaker trade with Brazil.

The emerging-market selloff, which also led to a big day of losses in U.S. equity markets, hurt Latin American stocks.

Emerging markets stocks and currencies, and to a lesser extent bonds, have been pummeled in recent sessions as investors fret over issues including slower growth in China and a decline in U.S. monetary stimulus.

Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index dropped 1.1 percent to 47,787.38, a level it has not closed below since last August.

"The swing is a reflection of fear over investing in Brazil and the exit of capital, with investors leaving the country," said Fausto Gouveia, an economist with Brazil's Legan Asset.

Shares of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA , known as Petrobras, fell 2.39 percent, while Ita├║ Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil's largest non-government bank, dropped 1.32 percent.

Brazil's Bovespa lost nearly 16 percent last year, compared with a 2.23 percent loss in Mexico's IPC index and a 29.6 percent gain in the S&P 500 over the same period.

Most investors have blamed the fall on broad concerns over economic fundamentals, erratic policy implementation and heavy-handed government meddling in the private sector.

Mexico's IPC index fell 1.33 percent to its lowest level since November.

Shares of lender Grupo Financiero Banorte fell 1.35 percent, while bottling firm Femsa lost 1.7 percent.

Chile's IPSA index posted its biggest one-day drop since last August, falling 2.05 percent to 3,597.98 as only four out of 40 stocks in the index hung onto gains.

Shares of retailer Falabella slid 2.43 percent, while rival Cencosud fell 5.85 percent.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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