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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam forex falls as investors avoid riskier assets on trade fears

By Agamoni Ghosh

* Petrobras posts its highest ever quarterly profit * Latin American currencies worst day in 2019 * EM stocks on biggest slide since December 2015 By Agamoni Ghosh Aug 2 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies fell on Friday as U.S.-China trade tensions pulled investors away from riskier assets, but a smashing quarter from Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras helped Brazil stocks outperform regional indices. U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to hike tariffs on Chinese imports starting on Sept. 1 on Thursday, a day after negotiators from both countries concluded a meeting in Shanghai without significant signs of progress to end a trade war. Emerging market assets, already reeling from the U.S. Federal Reserve's hawkish rate-cut outlook earlier this week, fell to near two-month lows, with Latin American currencies on course to post their worst week for 2019. "While Trump has not closed the doors for more talks ... we do not expect a trade deal between the U.S. and China to materialize," said Piotr Matys, Rabobank emerging markets FX strategist. "Even if an agreement is reached, it is likely to be weak and unsustainable as China will be reluctant to implement required structural reforms to satisfy the U.S." Stocks in the region fell across the board but Sao Paulo's Bovespa stocks bucked the trend after Petrobras posted its highest ever quarterly profit, credited in large part to billions of reais in asset sales. Shares of state-run power company Eletrobras rose 3.5% after President Jair Bolsonaro approved its privatization plan. Mexico's IPC index was at its lowest level since May, while stocks in Chile were on track to post their third consecutive session of losses. Chile's peso fell 0.6%, partly hurt by a dip in copper prices, its main export. Minutes released from the central bank's recent meeting showed policymakers in Chile considered cutting the benchmark interest rate, but ultimately opted to maintain it, citing a "relatively limited benefit." Chile, the world's top copper producer has shown a below-expected economic performance, in part due to weaker mining activity and the impact the U.S.-China trade dispute has had on the price of the metal. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1435 GMT Stock indexes daily % change Latest MSCI Emerging Markets 1002.73 -2.13 MSCI LatAm 2747.48 -1.72 Brazil Bovespa 101867.11 -0.10 Mexico IPC 39852.59 -1.22 Chile IPSA 4888.80 -1.05 Argentina MerVal 40727.38 -1.6 Colombia IGBC 12484.52 -0.27 Currencies daily % change Latest Brazil real 3.8820 -0.91 Mexico peso 19.3113 -0.41 Chile peso 710.7 -0.61 Colombia peso 3364.48 -0.77 Peru sol 3.339 -0.39 Argentina peso 44.6800 -0.65 (interbank) (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru Editing by Susan Thomas)