SAO PAULO, June 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian equities extended their recent slide amid political and fiscal worries on Friday, while the country's currency reversed losses as the central bank pledged liquidity to help prop up the real.
Stocks on the benchmark Bovespa stock index tumbled across the board for a fourth straight session, as traders continued to fret ahead of an unpredictable October election in which market-friendly candidates have failed to gain traction, according to recent polls.
Recent government intervention in oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA has also caused traders to question the resolve of the current government - and the ability of the next one - to stay on a path of pro-market policies and relative fiscal austerity.
"It's still an uncertain scenario, without a positive conclusion coming to light for local financial markets," said a Rio de Janeiro-based trader.
The Bovespa index was down 1.7 percent in late morning trade, after falling almost 3 percent earlier in the session.
Among the biggest losers on the index was food processor BRF SA, which shed some 5.4 percent, after China said it was slapping anti-dumping measures on Brazilian chicken.
Shares in state-run electricity company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, commonly known as Eletrobras, fell 5.3 percent amid ongoing setbacks to a privatization program that now seems almost certain to be left to the next government.
Preferred shares in Petrobras were down 4 percent after analysts at UBS downgraded the state-controlled oil company to "neutral" from "buy," saying the "phoenix ... (had fallen) back down to the earth." Brazil's currency, however, jumped 3.4 percent on Friday, rebounding from losses of up to 3 percent on Thursday and 19 percent since February.
The currency was supported by multiple statements from Brazilian central bank chief Ilan Goldfajn on Thursday and Friday, saying that the bank would offer up to $20 billion in currency swaps and ensure liquidity in the currency and interest rate markets.
In neighboring Argentina, the peso fell sharply against the dollar after the country signed a $50 billion standby financing arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, causing the central bank to abandon its spirited defense of the currency.
"I think (the) USD/ARS upward trend should remain intact," said Win Thin, Global Head of Emerging Market Currency Strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.
"Once the IMF deal was reached in principle, I'm sure that Argentina was asked to take FX intervention off the table. Last thing the IMF wants to see is its program money burned away by FX intervention, and so the peso needs to find its equilibrium level somewhere north of 25." The Argentine peso was down 2 percent at 25.5 per dollar in midday trade while the Mexican peso was down 0.4 percent at 20.56 per dollar.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1454 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily YTD pct pct change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1,133.26 -1.43 -0.76 MSCI LatAm 2,452.36 0.12 -13.39 Brazil Bovespa 72,627.80 -1.66 -4.94 Mexico IPC 45,457.48 -0.04 -7.90 Chile IPSA 5,457.46 -0.19 -1.93 Chile IGPA 27,646.18 -0.08 -1.20 Argentina MerVal 30,852.93 2.24 2.62 Colombia IGBC 12,251.93 -0.09 7.75 Venezuela IBC 40,372.64 1.28 3,096.21 Currencies Latest Daily YTD pct pct change change Brazil real 3.7933 3.42 -12.65 Mexico peso 20.5645 -0.39 -4.21 Chile peso 630.8 -0.02 -2.56 Colombia peso 2,852.3 -0.18 4.55 Peru sol 3.264 -0.03 -0.83 Argentina peso 25.5000 -2.02 -27.06 (interbank) Argentina peso 25.65 -0.39 -25.03 (parallel) (Reporting by Gram Slattery; additional reporting by Paula Arend Laier in Sao Paulo and Rodrigo Campos in New York, editing by G Crosse)