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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX firms versus soft dollar, stocks hit 2-1/2 week peak

(Recasts throughout, updates prices, adds market strategist's quote) By Aaron Saldanha April 8 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies firmed on Monday, helped by a soft dollar as global risk appetite rose, while equities in Latin America climbed on gains clocked in each of the region's countries, especially among resource stocks.

Demand for the dollar was dented by easing fears of global growth slowing at the start of a week featuring a slew of data due from China, a key buyer of Latin America's resources exports. Chinese inflation and trade data for March is due later this week.

"While the market has been expecting better China data, positioning is still light," Dirk Willer, Citi Research's head of emerging market strategy, and Kenneth Lam, emerging markets FX strategist, wrote in a note.

"We are positive on Latam FX as the better China sentiment is gathering steam." MSCI's Latin American currencies index gained 0.1 percent, while its index of Latin American stocks was up half a percent, after hitting a two and a half week high earlier in the day.

Brazil's real firmed 0.6 percent, while Sao Paulo-traded stocks rose 0.3 percent, largely on gains among materials and energy firms.

State-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) saw its common shares and preferred shares rise 2.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Credit Suisse upgraded its rating of Petrobras' U.S.-listed shares and raised its price target to $21.

A rise in oil prices to a five-month peak was also a supportive factor to Petrobras.

Shares of miner Vale SA rose 2.7 percent, tracking part of a 4.8 percent rise in iron ore prices in Dalian, China.

A group of Vale's minority shareholders have proposed an alternative board member to challenge the independent members within the group of 13 candidates presented by the firm's board, newspaper Valor Economico reported.

The pressure from minority shareholders reflects skepticism toward Vale's board and management after a mining dam burst in January left about 300 hundred dead. Vale opened talks with prosecutors and victims' families, it said on Monday, with an aim of defining compensation.

Meatpacker JBS rose 3.9 percent, helped by HSBC raising its price target on the stock and by strong beef export data.

Mexico's peso firmed half a percent, pierced through the 19 peso-per-dollar mark and saw trading volumes at about double their one-week average during trade on the day, as per Refinitiv Eikon data.

The currency is one of the developing world's most liquid and is considered by some investors to be a weather vane of trade sentiment.

Mexican stocks rose 1 percent on strong showings by financials and consumer staples.

Chile's peso rose 0.2 percent, with prices of copper , the country's top export, rising 1.2 percent on news of stimulus measures in China. Chilean stocks gained 0.4 percent.

Argentina's peso firmed to pull away from a record closing low clocked on Friday, while local stocks rose 1.3 percent.

Colombia's peso firmed 0.3 percent, while local stocks tacked on 1.1 percent, with energy firm Ecopetrol SA riding on the back of higher oil prices to gain 1.9 percent.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2106 GMT Stock indexes daily % Latest change MSCI Emerging Markets 1088.50 0.31 MSCI LatAm 2849.02 0.54 Brazil Bovespa 97369.29 0.27 Mexico IPC 45436.28 0.99 Chile IPSA 5274.72 0.38 Argentina MerVal 33080.87 1.27 Colombia IGBC 13252.76 1.08 Currencies daily % change Latest Brazil real 3.8495 -0.03 Mexico peso 18.9605 0.00 Chile peso 663.65 0.13 Colombia peso 3113.25 0.00 Peru sol 3.288 0.18 Argentina peso (interbank) 43.6000 0.85 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru Editing by Phil Berlowitz)