* Brazil's economy to remain weak in 2023- poll * Mexico's economy shrinks in Nov from Oct * Sri Lanka holds interest rates * Latam stocks flat, currencies up 0.5% By Amruta Khandekar Jan 25 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks were muted on Wednesday after a three-day rally while the Brazilian real hit an about one-week high even as concerns about a slowdown in the country's economic growth linger. The MSCI's index for Latin American stocks was flat at 1425 GMT. Brazil's Bovespa index fell 0.6%, dragged down by a fall in shares of state-run oil firm Petrobras and financial stocks. The Latam currencies index rose 0.5%, with the Brazilian real last up 0.4% against the dollar and rising for the second straight session. The currency of Latam's largest economy has gained 3.4% so far in 2023 against a 4.1% annual gain in the broader regional currencies index. Brazil's slowing economy will likely remain weak in 2023, a Reuters poll of economists found, with markets concerned that a new wave of planned spending by newly-elected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could put Brazil's debt on an even more unsustainable path and stir inflation. "The feeling that the Fed's hiking cycle is soon approaching the end and China’s relaxation of Covid sanitary barriers have both triggered a risk-on mood, allowing the BRL to follow other currencies and appreciate against the USD," Rabobank strategists Mauricio Une and Renan Alves wrote in a research note. "However, going forward, fiscal fundamentals, particularly debt sustainability, continue to be fragile and discussions about a new fiscal framework will still bring currency volatility over the course of 2023." Top copper exporter Chile's peso and the Peruvian sol fell about 0.5% each as prices of the red metal weakened. The Mexican peso was down 0.2%. The country's economy shrank 0.5 percent in November from October and expanded 3.3 percent from November of 2021, the national statistics agency said on Wednesday. Both Brazil and Mexico posted higher-than-expected inflation numbers on Tuesday. Elsewhere, Sri Lanka's central bank held interest rates steady for a third straight meeting on Wednesday, as widely expected, saying the prevailing tight monetary stance is crucial to taming still-high inflation and restoring economic stability. Among central and eastern European currencies, the Hungarian forint rose 0.3% against the euro while the Polish zloty fell 0.2%. Polish rate-setter Ludwik Kotecki said he sees scope for some small interest rate hikes this year but doesn't believe the Monetary Policy Council will decide to raise them. EM is poised to outperform as an asset class in the months ahead though there are challenges including weaker global activity, according to Mitul Kotecha, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1425 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1039.60 0.04 MSCI LatAm 2318.06 0.1 Brazil Bovespa 112438.55 -0.52 Mexico IPC 0.00 0 Chile IPSA 5252.43 -0.08 Argentina MerVal 251006.80 -0.437 Colombia COLCAP 1310.50 -1.6 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 5.1174 0.44 Mexico peso 18.8240 -0.23 Chile peso 804.2 -0.47 Colombia peso 4482.31 -0.30 Peru sol 3.9087 -0.52 Argentina peso 184.9900 -0.16 (interbank) Argentina peso 377 1.06 (parallel) (Reporting by Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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