Mexicans abroad sent record $28.8 bln home in 2017

MEXICO CITY, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Mexicans abroad sent a record $28.8 billion back home in 2017, with a December rise of more than 11 percent over the year, the central bank said on Thursday, as the peso slumped on worries the United States could end a free trade deal with Mexico.

Remittances rose to $2.60 billion in December from $2.34 billion 12 months earlier, Banco de Mexico said in a statement. Total transfers in 2017 were up nearly 7 percent from a record $27.0 billion in 2016.

The peso fell nearly 6 percent in December, hurt by a concerns that U.S. President Donald Trump could rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and that his U.S. tax reform could undermine investment in Mexico.

The peso has bounced back, partly on hopes that the United States, Mexico and Canada would eventually reach a deal to renegotiate NAFTA.

“Migrants tend to increase the amount when there is a depreciation of the exchange rate,” said Alejandro Cervantes, an economist at Mexican bank Banorte.

“Migrants with work permits improved their work situation with better salaries, while undocumented workers increased their shipments due to fear of being deported,” Cervantes added. (Reporting by Sheky Espejo; Editing by Richard Chang)