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EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil's real lags steady Latam markets as data disappoints

By Sruthi Shankar

* Real under pressure from weak retail sales data * Bovepsa lifted by another batch of earnings updates * IMF set to begin debt talks with Argentina By Sruthi Shankar Feb 12 (Reuters) - The Brazilian real was about flat on Wednesday after sliding in early trade to a record low on Wednesday after data showed retail sales dropped unexpectedly in December, and broader Latin American markets gained on hopes that the coronavirus outbreak in China has peaked. The real fell as much as 0.24% to 4.3419 before trading little changed versus the dollar. The currency has been pressured this year by slow overseas demand for Brazilian assets with interest rates at a record low. Official figures showed retail sales fell 0.1% in December, the first decline in eight months and another sign that consumer spending in Latin America's No. 1 economy will not power growth. "The release extends the slew of disappointing data undermining the growth narrative in Brazil and BRL longs," Citigroup's Dirk Willer wrote in a client note. "We stay on the sidelines in the BRL until more positive data firmly closes to door to further easing." Other currencies in the region, however, recovered further as China reported its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since late January, supporting its senior medical adviser's prediction that the outbreak might end by April. Currencies of Mexico, Chile and Colombia gained between 0.2% and 0.8%. Sao Paulo-listed shares added 0.5%, with payments processor Cielo SA leading gains after Chief Executive Officer Paulo Caffarelli said the company will seek to reverse a fall in profits this year. Wireless carrier TIM Participações SA rose 3.8% after it posted better-than-expected quarterly income, helped by higher customer spending. The International Monetary Fund was set to start talks with Argentina about economic policy, with the local bond market muddled after a failed debt auction and unilateral reprofiling of principal payments this week. On Tuesday, Argentina decided to postpone a $1.47 billion principal payment on its AF20 bond until Sept. 30, after two attempts to roll over the bond attracted low investor participation. The government says it needs to rejig $100 billion in debt, including $44 billion in loans to the fund, Argentina's biggest single creditor. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1409 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1106.37 0.63 MSCI LatAm 2795.96 0.24 Brazil Bovespa 115906.98 0.46 Mexico IPC - - Chile IPSA 4684.04 0.51 Argentina MerVal - - Colombia COLCAP - - Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 4.3325 -0.16 Mexico peso 18.6280 0.14 Chile peso 787.4 0.52 Colombia peso 3392.51 0.76 Peru sol 3.3818 0.15 Argentina peso (interbank) 61.2150 -0.16 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio)