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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies edge higher with focus on U.S. stimulus plan

Shreyashi Sanyal
·3 min read

* Brazil's real leads gains among Latam FX * Mexican peso eyes first weekly gain this year * Goldman Sachs ups MSCI EM equity index target * Brazil to start COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 21 -senator By Shreyashi Sanyal Jan 14 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies edged higher on Thursday, with investors focusing on U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's fiscal stimulus plan as hopes grew for a bigger package. Global markets shrugged off U.S. President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial and chose instead to look at Biden's stimulus proposal which could exceed $1.5 trillion. "Investors are eagerly waiting for President-elect Joe Biden to provide further details on his planned economic stimulus package," said Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at Axi. "The prospect of another multi-trillion aid bill and the Biden administration's promise to take quick action has kept investor sentiment upbeat." Brazil's real rose 0.6% against the dollar, the most among Latin American currencies as investors kept close watch on the country's public finances. Also on the radar for Brazil is a slower-than-expected rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. A Brazilian senator said an inoculation campaign could begin as soon as Jan. 21 but declined to give an official start date. The Mexican peso advanced 0.2%, eyeing its first weekly gain of the year as improving economic data points helped support views that the country was slowly emerging from the throes of the pandemic. According to market analysts, capital outflows in Mexico hit record levels in 2020 but a turnaround could be in store this year due to diminishing risk perception, attractive returns and relatively high interest rates. The Chilean and Colombian currencies were flat, while the Argentine peso dipped. Chile's central bank had announced on Wednesday a plan to purchase $12 billion over the next 15 months to replenish and expand the country's foreign currency reserves. "We would not be surprised if the central bank halts USD purchases, if the Chilean peso weakens substantially," noted strategists at Credit Suisse. Latin American stocks added 0.5%, while the MSCI's index for emerging market equities rose to a fresh record high. Goldman Sachs raised its target on MSCI's emerging market equity index to 1450 from 1375, citing better earnings per share in the past two months. The forecast sees an 8% upside from current levels, though Goldman Sachs predicted in a note to clients a greater upside in emerging markets ex-Asia including gains of between 10%-20% in U.S.-dollar terms across Mexico, Poland, and Brazil. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1409 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1366.11 0.15 MSCI LatAm 2518.60 0.51 Brazil Bovespa 122491.73 0.46 Mexico IPC - - Chile IPSA 4657.82 -0.02 Argentina MerVal - - Colombia COLCAP - - Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 5.2756 0.68 Mexico peso 19.8490 -0.05 Chile peso 738 -0.08 Colombia peso 3476.74 -0.06 Peru sol 3.6118 0.06 Argentina peso (interbank) 85.6400 -0.09 Argentina peso (parallel) 156 1.92 (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrea Ricci)