March 7, 2018 / 6:03 PM / in 8 months

EMERGING MARKETS-Brazilian equities lead regional losses as tariff fears heat up

    SAO PAULO, March 7 (Reuters) - Brazil's benchmark Bovespa
index and real currency led market losses across
Latin America on Wednesday, after the departure of a high
ranking aide to U.S. President Donald Trump renewed fears of a
global trade war.
    On Tuesday, Gary Cohn, the top economic advisor to Trump and
a voice for Wall Street in the White House, said he would
resign, after he lost a fight with Trump over a plan for steel
and aluminum import tariffs.
    Investors widely interpreted the move as clearing the path
for Trump to keep pushing for protectionist measures, sending
stocks of steelmakers sliding.
    In Brazil, Vale SA, a significant miner of
steelmaking ingredient iron ore, was off 1.6 percent in
afternoon trade, accounting for 129 points of the Bovespa's
1,028-point slide.
    Steelmakers Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais SA
, Cia Siderúrgica Nacional, and Gerdau SA
 fell 4 percent, 3.5 percent, and 1.4 percent,
respectively.
    "The market improved yesterday on the possibility that the
Trump administration might reverse its steel policy. But it
became clear that he's not going to reverse that position," said
Pedro Paulo Silveira, an economist at brokerage Nova Futura.
    Other news also weighed on Brazil's equities. Shares in
Smiles Fidelidade SA, an administrator of consumer
loyalty programs, was the Bovespa's biggest percentage loser,
plummeting 12.6 percent after the company released disappointing
dividend guidance.
    Overall, the Bovespa was down 1.2 percent, its biggest
intraday loss since February.
    Stocks also posted moderate losses in all other major Latin
American markets, with Mexico's IPC and Argentina's
Merval falling 0.52 percent and 0.91 percent,
respectively.
    Chile's IPSA index, while still in the red, posted
relatively modest losses, dropping only 0.19 percent, after the
nation posted its biggest trade surplus in four years in
February thanks to strong copper exports.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1735 GMT:
  
 Stock indexes                           daily %     YTD %
                                          change    change
                              Latest              
 MSCI Emerging Markets         1186,12     -0,65      3,06
                                                  
 MSCI LatAm                    3061,80     -1,37      9,77
                                                  
 Brazil Bovespa               84626,03      -1,2     10,76
                                                  
 Mexico IPC                   47635,62     -0,52     -3,48
                                                  
 Chile IPSA                    5537,83     -0,19     -0,48
                                                  
 Chile IGPA                   27754,51     -0,17     -0,81
                                                  
 Argentina MerVal             32567,42     -0,91      8,32
                                                  
 Colombia IGBC                11404,35     -0,23      0,30
                                                  
 Venezuela IBC                 4868,07       2,7    -84,65
                                                  
                                                          
 Currencies                              daily %     YTD %
                                          change    change
                                                  
                                Latest            
 Brazil real                    3,2414     -0,98      2,22
                                                  
 Mexico peso                   18,8010     -0,31      4,78
                                                  
 Chile peso                     602,95     -0,51      1,94
                                                  
 Colombia peso                 2863,44     -0,36      4,14
 Peru sol                        3,255     -0,15     -0,55
                                                  
 Argentina peso (interbank)    20,3550     -0,07     -8,62
                                                  
 Argentina peso (parallel)       20,44     -0,05     -5,92
                                                  
 
 (Reporting by Gram Slattery, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
  
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