May 2, 2018 / 9:36 PM / a year ago

EMERGING MARKETS-LatAm markets mostly down, Argentina's peso hits new low

 (Recasts, adds quote and updates prices)
    SAO PAULO, May 2 (Reuters) - Markets across Latin America
were down on Wednesday as trade tensions simmered in Brazil and
Mexico, the region's two biggest economies, while Argentina's
peso slid to a record low.
    The United States cut off metals tariff talks with Brazil,
contradicting an earlier U.S. announcement that the two
countries had reached a permanent exemption from steel and
aluminum import tariffs.
    In Mexico, both the peso currency and stock exchange fell on
Wednesday, in part weighed down by continued uncertainty over
unresolved talks to update the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada.    
    The MSCI Emerging Markets Latin America Index
, a benchmark for the region's major economies,
was down 2.6 percent.
    "In Mexico, you are having (presidential candidate Andres
Manuel) Lopez Obrador doing well in the polls and the market was
significantly long the Mexican peso; that’s a very crowded
position. In Argentina you have a run against the currency as
investors lost confidence on the monetary-fiscal policy mix,"
said Claudio Irigoyen, head of Latin America economics and fixed
income strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. 
    Argentina's peso closed on Wednesday down 3.11 percent to
trade at an all-time low of 21.2 pesos per U.S. dollar,
following a surprise rate hike by the South American country's
central bank.
    While the bank sold some $400 million in the foreign
exchange market as of early afternoon to halt the slide, the
currency's sustained weakening pointed to a lack of investor
confidence in Latin America's third-biggest economy, which
suffers one of the world's highest inflation rates.
    In Brazil, the Bovespa fell 1.8 percent, led by
losses at Brazil's largest bank Itau.
    Bucking the regional trend, Colombia's IGBC index was mostly
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2020 GMT:
 Stock indexes                Latest     Daily pct   YTD pct
                                            change    change
 MSCI Emerging Markets         1,150.84      -0.83      0.17
 MSCI LatAm                    2,896.72      -2.56      5.11
 Brazil Bovespa               84,547.09      -1.82     10.66
 Mexico IPC                   47,809.98      -1.13     -3.13
 Chile IPSA                    5,695.02      -0.28      2.34
 Chile IGPA                   28,648.74      -0.18      2.39
 Argentina MerVal             29,657.56      -1.16     -1.36
 Colombia IGBC                12,427.18        0.1      9.29
 Venezuela IBC                21,710.28      -2.28    -31.52
 Currencies                      Latest  Daily pct   YTD pct
                                            change    change
 Brazil real                     3.5516      -0.11     -6.71
 Mexico peso                    19.0950      -0.76      3.16
 Chile peso                       618.5      -0.92     -0.62
 Colombia peso                  2,832.5      -1.13      5.28
 Peru sol                         3.268      -0.49     -0.95
 Argentina peso (interbank)     21.1700      -2.98    -12.14
 Argentina peso (parallel)        21.05      -0.81     -8.65
 (Reporting by Paula Arend Laier, Gram Slattery and David Alire
Editing by James Dalgleish)
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