* Investors rush towards dollar safety * Mexican peso slumps to near 1-month low * Chilean peso tracks copper declines By Shashank Nayar Dec 21 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies followed other markets lower on Monday as investors moved into dollar assets after Britain imposed tighter restrictions to curb a new COVID-19 virus strain. Many countries suspended travel for Britons after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a mutated variant of the coronavirus, up to 70% more transmissible, had been identified in the country, heightening global concerns. The Brazilian real, Mexican and Chilean pesos tumbled, with investors rushing towards the dollar as the new coronavirus fanned fears of further economic damage. "The greenback is having its best day since March as risk aversion runs wild after the UK found a new COVID-19 strain," Edward Moya, an analyst at Oanda in New York, said. Fears about the virus more than offset optimism as U.S. congressional leaders finally agreed on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package. Hopes of fresh U.S. stimulus as well as signs of progress in COVID-19 vaccinations had supported the region's markets in the past weeks. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said in a video on Saturday that the rush for a vaccine is not justified and again affirmed that the pandemic is over. Mexico's currency fell to its lowest level in almost a month as crude oil prices tumbled by more than $3 before trimming losses as fresh lockdown measures in Europe sparked worries of a slower recovery in fuel demand. The Chilean peso tracked losses in copper prices as the dollar's biggest gain since September made metals priced in the currency more expensive for buyers outside the United States. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies: Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1254.74 -1.07 MSCI LatAm 2401.25 -2.64 Brazil Bovespa 116133.60 -1.6 Mexico IPC 43252.76 -1.42 Chile IPSA 4128.12 -1.96 Argentina MerVal 51140.10 -2.305 Colombia COLCAP 1390.03 -2.55 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 5.1497 -1.30 Mexico peso 20.1530 -1.08 Chile peso 730 -0.66 Colombia peso 3437.55 -0.59 Peru sol 3.6058 -0.30 Argentina peso (interbank) 83.1400 -0.36 (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith)
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