February 27, 2020 / 7:47 PM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Coronavirus risks up pressure on Latam FX, Brazil's real at new lows

    * Wall St banks cut Brazil 2020 GDP growth forecast  
    * Mexican peso touches lowest level in three months
    * Chilean, Colombian pesos hit by lower commodity prices

 (Adds comment, updates prices)
    By Shreyashi Sanyal
    Feb 27 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies were pressured
on Thursday, with Brazil's real touching a record low as a jump
in new coronavirus cases outside China heightened fears about an
imminent pandemic that could weigh heavily on global growth.
    Brazil confirmed Latin America's first infection on
Wednesday, which saw its stocks bleed 7% and its
currency hit all-time lows when markets reopened after a
extended weekend. 
    On Thursday, Brazil's real currency fell to a low of
4.5012 to the dollar, while the Bovespa index dropped 0.3%. The
real is down more than 10% this year. 
    JP Morgan became the latest Wall Street bank to cut its
outlook for Latin America's biggest economy, just after Bank of
America Merrill Lynch cut its 2020 economic growth outlook to
under 2%. 
    "The past month has brought further evidence that Brazil's
economy slowed towards the end of last year," said William
Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics
in London.
    Governments around the world ramped up measures to protect
people against the coronavirus as the number of new infections
outside China for the first time surpassed new cases in the
country, where the outbreak began. The virus has infected more
than 80,000 people and killed nearly 2,800.
          
    Commodity prices have also taken a beating because of the
outbreak as a significant portion of global demand stems from
China.   
    Falling copper and oil prices hurt the Chilean and
the Colombian pesos respectively.
    "The region has limited direct economic ties with the
countries suffering outbreaks and only reported its first case
late this month but is vulnerable to the recent falls in
commodity prices," said Jackson. 
    Chilean stocks slid to a three-year low, last down
0.8%. 
    Mexico's peso slumped to its lowest in three months,
down 0.6% at 19.38 to the dollar. The peso is on track for its
sixth straight session of losses, which would be its longest
losing streak since September 2016. If losses hold, it will have
lost about 4% over the six sessions.
    Mexico's central bank on Wednesday cut its 2020 economic
growth forecast and hiked its inflation view, saying projections
were shrouded in uncertainty because it was unclear how the
spread of the coronavirus would dent global growth.
    Much remains unknown about the virus, which originated late
last year, apparently in a market selling wildlife in the city
of Wuhan in China. As the virus spread, increasing worries have
wiped about $3.6 trillion dollars from the MSCI's world index
.
        
    Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1425 GMT:    
    Stock indexes              Latest       Daily %
                                             change
 MSCI Emerging Markets            1034.27       -0.87
                                           
 MSCI LatAm                       2464.56        -2.6
                                           
 Brazil Bovespa                 104965.59       -0.71
                                           
 Mexico IPC                      41924.37        -1.9
                                           
 Chile IPSA                       4262.04       -0.83
                                           
 Argentina MerVal                35831.87      -1.621
                                           
 Colombia COLCAP                  1576.86       -0.81
                                           
                                                     
       Currencies              Latest       Daily %
                                             change
 Brazil real                       4.4711       -0.62
                                           
 Mexico peso                      19.3820       -0.52
                                           
 Chile peso                         814.7       -0.56
                                           
 Colombia peso                     3498.5       -1.24
 Peru sol                           3.433       -0.70
                                           
 Argentina peso                   62.1375       -0.08
 (interbank)                               
                                           
 
 (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Grant
McCool)
  
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