(Recasts with Argentina rate hike) April 27 (Reuters) - Argentina's central bank surprised markets on Friday by hiking its key interest rate and intervening with dollar sales to support its peso, while Mexico's and Brazil's currencies gained ground after steep, recent losses.
Argentina's central bank unexpectedly raised its key rate by 3 percentage points to 30.25 percent after the Argentine peso slumped to an all-time low.
The bank said it sold $1.38 billion on the spot market on Friday. The moves helped the currency rocket back from its low to close little changed on the day.
Analysts said the market had been doubting that the central bank would hike interest rates while the government pushes policies aimed at spurring economic growth ahead of President Mauricio Macri's expected 2019 re-election bid.
Mexico's peso and Brazil's real firmed after mixed U.S. economic data drove investors to pare back bets on a faster pace of U.S. interest rate hikes.
The U.S. economy slowed in the first quarter as growth in consumer spending braked sharply, though labor costs increased more than expected in the period.
"Consumer spending was weak, despite a strong overall reading. We'll need more clues to justify the recent growth of rate hike bets," said Mauriciano Cavalcante, the head of currency trading at Ourominas.
Emerging market currencies have slumped in recent weeks due to expectations of accelerating inflation and a widening fiscal deficit that could drive the U.S. Federal Reserve to accelerate policy tightening. That would likely dampen demand for high-yielding assets.
The Mexican peso firmed 0.8 percent, while the Brazilian real gained 0.4 percent.
Brazil's and Mexico's benchmark stock indexes were little changed, but shares of some companies made big moves following a batch of corporate updates.
Shares in Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa rose more than 4 percent after it reported stronger sales and said it is considering spinning off assets, particularly its cable division.
Rival cable television provider Megacable jumped over 7 percent, its biggest one-day percentage gain in five years, after its report beat expectations.
Mexico's Jose Cuervo, the world's largest tequila producer, fell more than 6 percent after publishing disappointing U.S. sales numbers. It was the stock's biggest one-day loss since it listed early last year.
Shares of Brazil's GPA SA jumped 3.95 percent after the food retailer beat first-quarter profit estimates on Thursday, fueled by a strong performance by its wholesale unit.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2100 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change Latest MSCI Emerging Markets 1156.30 1.05 -0.19 MSCI LatAm 3011.67 0.85 6.49 Brazil Bovespa 86444.66 0.07 13.14 Mexico IPC 48284.61 -0.03 -2.17 Chile IPSA 5690.48 0.19 2.26 Chile IGPA 28582.25 0.17 2.15 Argentina MerVal 30006.35 1.76 -0.20 Colombia IGBC 12421.57 1.23 9.24 Venezuela IBC 22380.01 5.24 1671.78 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.4614 0.42 -4.28 Mexico peso 18.6210 0.83 5.79 Chile peso 607.05 -0.79 1.25 Colombia peso 2804.21 0.42 6.34 Peru sol 3.236 0.00 0.03 Argentina peso (interbank) 20.5350 0.07 -9.42 Argentina peso (parallel) 20.83 -0.72 -7.68 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Additional reporting by Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City and Walter Bianchi in Buenos Aires; Editing by Dan Grebler and Diane Craft)