* Brazil's Bovespa up for 6th session, hits 22-month high
* Mexico stocks, peso gain on bets of US-driven rebound
* Argentine assets rally on debt swap expectations
* Chile's cenbank minutes hint at rate hike after quake
By Walter Brandimarte
NEW YORK, April 5 Further signs of recovery in
the U.S. economy propelled Latin American financial markets on
Monday, sending Mexican stocks to an all-time high and the
country's currency to its strongest in 17 months.
Latin American markets returned from a long Easter weekend
cheered by a batch of positive economic data, including
Friday's rise in U.S. nonfarm payrolls, as well as Monday's
surprisingly strong data on the U.S. non-manufacturing service
and home sales.
In Mexico, which sends 80 percent of its exports to the
neighboring United States, the IMEF manufacturing sector index
jumped to its highest level in almost 3-1/2 years. For details,
"Market participants realize the economic performance of
Mexico in 2010 will be tremendous after the 'perfect storm'
occurred in 2009," said Kathryn Rooney Vera, senior strategist
at Bulltick Capital Markets, forecasting the peso will gain an
additional 6.4 percent through the end of the year.
The Mexican peso MXX= led Latin American currencies
higher, gaining 0.58 percent to 12.237 per U.S. dollar.
Bulltick sees it at 11.5 per greenback by year end.
Chile's peso came next, boosted by central bank minutes
that hinted interest rates could go higher soon in order to
fight inflation resulting from a massive earthquake in
Rising copper prices also supported the Chilean currency
CLP=, which firmed 0.54 percent to close at 519.30 per
dollar, the strongest in two weeks. Copper is Chile's main
The Brazilian real BRBY gained 0.34 percent to 1.763 per
dollar, in its fifth consecutive session of gains.
STOCKS AT NEW HIGHS
Bets that Mexico will be the Latin American country to
benefit the most from the U.S. economic recovery sent the
country's IPC stock index .MXX closed up 1.15 percent to a
record high 33,648.89 points.
Argentina's MerVal stock index .MERV also finished at an
all-time high, after jumping 3.19 percent on the day on
expectations the government will get a high rate of acceptance
in a planned swap of defaulted bonds.
Brazil's Bovespa index .BVSP rose 0.22 percent to a fresh
22-month high, in its sixth consecutive session of gains.
"The U.S. data is underscoring positive expectations for
the Brazilian economy," said Fernando Barbara, a fixed-income
director at Capital Investimentos in Sao Paulo.
Brazil's domestic yield curve, as measured by future
interest rate contracts, flattened slightly in the first
trading session after Henrique Meirelles said he will remain as
central bank president until the end of his mandate. The news
ended speculation on whether he would run for public office.
Meirelles' decision increased bets the central bank will
soon raise interest rates to contain prices, reducing risks of
higher inflation in the future, traders said.
Brazil's interest rate contracts maturing January 2012 fell
to 1.62 percent 2DIJF2, compared to 11.66 percent in the
previous session, while shorter maturities remained practically
(Additional reporting by Paula Laier and Aluisio Alves in Sao
Paulo; Editing by Andrew Hay)