EMERGING MARKETS-Chilean, Argentine equities hit record highs

    SAO PAULO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Chile's equities market hit a
record intraday high on Thursday on positive developments for
the nation's lithium and copper industries, while Argentina's
benchmark index also rose amid continued heavy interest from
international investors. 
    On Wednesday evening, Chilean state development agency Corfo
said it had struck a deal with lithium miner SQM,
ending a long dispute over royalties in Chile's Salar de Atacama
and potentially unlocking significant investments.

    That deal frees the miner to apply for an increase in its
production quota during a demand boom for lithium, which is used
in batteries that power electric cars.
    While SQM's stock price was little changed, shares of its
controlling companies rose. Sociedad de Inversiones Oro Blanco
SA was up 2.19  percent, and Norte Grande SA
gained 2.73 percent.
    "We believe that the scope of the revision of the quota is
greater than the market was expecting," local brokerage Banchile
wrote in a note to clients.
    On Wednesday, the Chilean government raised its forecast for
the average 2018 price for copper, the nation's most
important export by far, to $3.06 from $2.95 previously.
However, much of that revision was due to expectations of mining
    Chile's blue-chip IPSA index was up 0.09 percent in
the late morning after rising 0.3 percent to an all-time high.
    Argentina's smaller Merval index also hit an
all-time high after a Tuesday decision by the central bank to
cut the interest rate on its Lebac securities. Argentina's stock
market has benefited in recent months from foreign capital
inflows, as high liquidity abroad combines with a favorable
political outlook for the nation.
    Among the Merval's big winners was power distributor Cia de
Transporte de Energia Electrica de Alta Tension SA,
known as Transener, which shot up 4.3 percent after local
brokerage Allaria Ledesma raised its price target for the stock.
    The Merval had risen 1.12 percent by midday.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1454 GMT:
 Stock indexes                             daily %     YTD %
                               Latest       change    change
 MSCI Emerging Markets           1228,86      0.51      5,54
 MSCI LatAm                      3070,77      0.66      7.86
 Brazil Bovespa                 81314,24      0.15      6.43
 Mexico IPC                     49809,65      0.16      0.92
 Chile IPSA                      5791,51      0.09      4.08
 Chile IGPA                     29104,28      0.09      4.02
 Argentina MerVal               33974,36      1.12     13.00
 Colombia IGBC                  11824,16     -0.07      3.99
 Venezuela IBC                   2337,16      0.44    -92.63 Currencies                                daily %     YTD %
                                            change    change
 Brazil real                      3,2050      0.33      3.38
 Mexico peso                     18,6350      0.42      5.71
 Chile peso                        605,3      0.22      1.54
 Colombia peso                   2828,89      0.34      5.41
 Peru sol                          3,211      0.00      0.81
 Argentina peso (interbank)      18,8400      0.11     -1.27
 Argentina peso (parallel)         19,57      0.26     -1.74

 (Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)