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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks, currencies mostly stable ahead of Fed
March 19, 2014 / 4:20 PM / in 4 years

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks, currencies mostly stable ahead of Fed

By Asher Levine
    SAO PAULO, March 19 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks and
currencies were mostly stable on Wednesday as investors paused
ahead of a policy statement by U.S. Federal Reserve and press
conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen half an hour later.
    The MSCI Latin American stock index crept
higher from Tuesday's close. Brazil's Bovespa index 
advanced to 46,400 points, though Mexican and Chilean shares
  ticked lower.
    While the Fed is widely expected to continue reducing the
pace of its bond-buying stimulus program, traders will be
watching for hints on how fast that taperng will be carried out.
Investor concerns over the reduction in stimulus helped
contribute to a broad selloff of emerging market assets earlier
this year. 
    The Bovespa rose 0.6 percent, bouncing further off the
eight-month lows hit on Friday and adding to the 2.6 percent
advance notched over the previous two sessions. Most of the
gains were concentrated in widely traded stocks, including
state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA and lender
Itau Unibanco Holdings SA.
    Brazil's currency, the real, strengthened about 0.4
percent against the dollar, with trading volumes thin ahead of
the Fed announcement.
    Chile's peso was little changed as dollar sales
resulting from the expiration of unrenewed currency forward
contracts offset the effect of lower copper prices,
traders said.
    Mexico's peso was nearly unchanged for a second day.
Analysts have been hopeful that major telecommunications,
banking and energy reforms pushed through Congress last year
will eventually contribute to greater foreign investment and
economic growth. 
    "We still see the peso as an outperformer in the emerging
markets context, on account of the reform momentum and the
economy's ties to the U.S.," wrote UBS analyst Rafael De La
Fuente in an investor note on Wednesday. 
    "However, with the Fed tapering ongoing, and no major
reform-related foreign direct investment expected in the short
term, there is no clear catalyst for the currency to appreciate
strongly in the short term."
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1535 GMT:
 Stock indexes                             daily %     YTD %
                               Latest       change    change
 MSCI Emerging Markets             950.4       0.8     -4.34
 MSCI LatAm                      2929.18      0.55     -8.99
 Brazil Bovespa                 46429.42       0.6     -9.86
 Mexico IPC                     38802.27     -0.03     -9.19
 Chile IPSA                      3653.11     -0.56     -1.25
 Chile IGPA                      18067.9     -0.45     -0.87
 Argentina MerVal                 5899.3      0.26      9.43
 Colombia IGBC                  13090.36      0.49      0.15
 Peru IGRA                      14619.42     -0.39     -7.20
 Venezuela IBC                   2588.21      0.29     -5.42
 Currencies                                daily %     YTD %
                                            change    change
 Brazil real                      2.3305      0.41      1.13
 Mexico peso                     13.1595      0.00     -0.98
 Chile peso                        569.2     -0.04     -7.57
 Colombia peso                   2013.59      0.81     -4.05
 Peru sol                          2.814     -0.04     -0.75
 Argentina peso (interbank)       7.8775      0.06    -17.58
 Argentina peso (parallel)         10.85      0.74     -7.83

 (Additional reporting by Froilán Romero in Santiago)

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