January 9, 2019 / 9:40 PM / 4 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam forex buoyed by dovish Fed minutes; stocks rally on trade optimism

 (Adds market details, changes market commentator's quote)
    * Brazil's Bovespa crosses 93,000-level for first time ever 
    * Mexico's peso at near three-month high 
    * Dollar tumbles to its lowest level since October 2018  

    By Agamoni Ghosh
    Jan 9 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies jumped across
the board on Wednesday taking advantage of a weak dollar after
the U.S. Federal Reserve expressed caution about future rate
hikes, while stocks in the region rallied as investors reduced
safe-haven bets due to optimism about U.S.-China trade talks.
    Minutes from last month's Fed policy meeting showed a range
of policymakers said they could be patient about future interest
rate increases and a few did not support the central bank's rate
increase in December 2018.
    Emerging market currencies including those in Latin America
were buoyed by the dovish stance from Fed with Brazil's real
 climbing over 0.8 percent as the dollar slid to its
lowest level since October 2018.
    "The dollar has come of quite significantly today giving a
major boost to emerging market currencies," said Christian
Lawrence, senior market strategist, LatAm FX, Rabobank.
    Rising U.S. borrowing costs had reduced the attractiveness
of riskier emerging market assets in 2018, but a dovish stance
since the last quarter of 2018 has helped currencies in the
developing world.   
    "The market is currently positioned for no rate hike, but we
would argue for possibly one rate hike in March 2019 and then
rate cuts in 2020," said Lawrence.
    Mexico's peso appreciated at its best level in nearly
 three months aided by a jump of 5 percent in oil prices, while
Chile's peso closed at its highest level in almost five
weeks supported by a rebound in the price of copper, the
country's main export. 
    MSCI's index for Latin American stocks rose
over 2 percent on trade optimism news with Brazil's Bovespa
index crossing 93,000 for the first time in its history
in a broad-based rally. 
    The Brazilian government's proposed social security reform
was also in focus as it plans to introduce individual
contributions into private funds to ensure the pensions of
future generations and help boost growth.
    Overhaul of the country's costly state pension system is a
top priority for Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro, because
it is the main cause of chronic budget deficits and a mounting
and unsustainable public debt.
    Stocks in Mexico hovered around two-month highs led
by gains in shares of petrochemical company Alpek,
while Argentina's stock market also rose sharply, led by
purchases of financial stocks. 
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2130 GMT 
       
 Stock indexes                             daily %
                               Latest       change
 MSCI Emerging Markets            994.41      1.94
                                          
 MSCI LatAm                      2823.88      2.01
                                          
 Brazil Bovespa                 93613.04      1.72
                                          
 Mexico IPC                     43667.63      0.29
                                          
 Chile IPSA                      5264.51      0.77
                                          
 Argentina MerVal               33769.35       2.6
                                          
 Colombia IGBC                  11589.34      0.76
                                          
                                                  
 Currencies                                daily %
                                            change
                                  Latest  
 Brazil real                      3.6806      0.87
                                          
 Mexico peso                     19.2145      0.75
                                          
 Chile peso                        676.8      0.47
                                          
 Colombia peso                   3133.75      0.49
 Peru sol                          3.338      0.06
                                          
 Argentina peso (interbank)      37.3500      0.64
                                          
 

 (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru
Editing by Marguerita Choy)
  
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