April 8, 2019 / 3:48 PM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks steady, Argentina's peso hovers at record-low levels

    By Agamoni Ghosh
    April 8 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks were flat on
Monday, partly subdued by delays in important pension reform in
Brazil, while currencies in the region rose against a weak
dollar but Argentina's peso hovered around record-low levels on
political uncertainty. 
    MSCI's index of Latin American stocks was
little changed with stocks in Colombia's IGBC index leading
gains.
    Sao Paulo-traded stocks rose for a third straight
day led by shares of energy companies as oil prices hit
five-month highs.
    Brazil's Petrobras was among the top gainers
after the state-controlled oil firm agreed to sell 90 percent
its Associated Gas Carrier (TAG) unit for $ 8.6 billion to
French utility firm Engie to helps cut debts.
 
    Focus also remained on Brazil's social security reform, but
investors are worried about a delay and changes made to the
original pension reform promised by President Jair Bolsonaro. 
    An opinion poll by DataFolha released on Sunday shows
Bolsonaro is facing the lowest approval rate for a first-term
Brazilian president through 100 days among all elected
predecessors since the country's return to democracy in the late
1980s.
    Although the external environment is helping Brazil, focus
is still on the political landscape, said Guilherme Foureaux, 
partner and portfolio manager at Paineiras Investimentos. 
    Mexican stocks fell 0.2 percent while the peso
gained over 0.4 percent on the back of higher oil prices.    
    Chile's peso rose about half a percent on gains in
the price of copper, the country's top export, while
stocks on the IPSA index were marginally lower.
    Data showed Chile had an inflation rate of 0.5 percent in
March and consumer prices rose 2.0 percent in the 12 month
period.      
    Argentina's peso recovered slightly from a record low
hit on Friday as lower interest rates on peso-denominated bonds
combined with political and economic uncertainty continue to put
pressure on the currency. 
    The International Monetary Fund said although Argentina's
economy would likely contract at a lower rate than previously
forecast, the October presidential election was the "most
visible near-term risk," and could raise market anxiety and lead
to larger-than-expected peso outflows. 
    The IMF's executive board ratified its third review of
Argentina's economic progress under a major financing deal
agreed last year, unlocking a roughly $10.8 billion tranche of
funds.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1500 GMT 
  
    
 Stock indexes                        daily %
                             Latest    change
 MSCI Emerging Markets       1087.64     0.23
                                      
 MSCI LatAm                  2835.43     0.06
                                      
 Brazil Bovespa             97143.24     0.14
                                      
 Mexico IPC                 44898.89     -0.2
                                      
 Chile IPSA                  5251.43    -0.07
                                      
 Argentina MerVal           33104.71     1.34
                                      
 Colombia IGBC              13154.64     0.33
                                      
                                             
 Currencies                           daily %
                                       change
                              Latest  
 Brazil real                  3.8678     0.08
                                      
 Mexico peso                 18.9830     0.48
                                      
 Chile peso                   662.66     0.28
                                      
 Colombia peso                3116.9     0.18
 Peru sol                      3.291     0.09
                                      
 Argentina peso               0.0229      0.3
 (interbank)                          
                                      
 

 (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Paula Laier
Editing by Susan Thomas)
  
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