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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX softer, real drops on caution about pension reform

(In 13th paragraph, corrects symbol for Colombian stocks) By Aaron Saldanha Feb 21 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies softened on Thursday against a resurgent dollar, with Brazil's real leading the losses as caution about the progress of the government's pension reform proposal weighed, while commodity-linked currencies such as the pesos of Chile and Colombia slipped.

The strengthening dollar combined with a wait-and-see approach by some investors regarding the passage of the Brazilian government's pension overhaul proposal, which was presented to the country's congress on Wednesday, sent the real down 1.1 percent.

Alessandro Faganello, a currency trader with Advanced Corretora in Brazil, said local investors were optimistic about the prospects of a smooth passage of the reform proposal but foreigners were cautious and were looking for politicians' reactions to the proposal.

MSCI's index of Latin American currencies slid 0.8 percent, as the real slid to a near one-month closing low.

Sao Paulo-traded stocks rose 0.4 percent, as gains among financials and utilities outweighed losses among materials stocks.

Steel products maker Cia Sigerurgica Nacional SA was an exception among materials stocks, surging 9.4 percent. The firm said it was considering selling preferential shares it holds in a larger rival.

Mexico's peso slid 0.3 percent, while strong showings among local financial stocks pushed the local equity index 0.9 percent higher.

Minutes from the Mexican central bank's latest monetary policy meeting released on Thursday showed a majority of the bank's board members warned a fresh credit rating downgrade for state oil firm Pemex could hit government finances.

Ratings agency Fitch double-downgraded Pemex's credit to the last rung of investment grade last month, sparking speculation that Mexico's sovereign rating was possibly next on the chopping block.

Chile's peso fell 0.2 percent, tracking lower prices of copper - the country's top export - as the metal retreated from a seven-month peak.

Stocks in Chile gained 0.5 percent to end at a more than two-week closing peak, pushed up by a 2.4 percent rise in lithium giant Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile's preferred shares.

That performance came as fellow lithium miner Albemarle provided a bullish outlook for 2019 and clocked a better than expected quarterly profit.

Colombia's peso weakened 0.4 percent, while local stocks slipped 0.2 percent as weaker oil prices dragged energy firm Ecopetrol SA 0.8 percent lower.

Argentina's peso firmed as the country's central bank hiked the interest rate on short-term notes, or Leliqs, to soak up excess peso liquidity.

Argentina's stocks benchmark fell 1.8 percent as traders booked some profits. During Wednesday's session, the index had neared an all-time hit last week.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2138 GMT Stock indexes daily % Latest change MSCI Emerging Markets 1050.99 0.16 MSCI LatAm 2874.26 -0.29 Brazil Bovespa 96932.27 0.4 Mexico IPC 43577.64 0.93 Chile IPSA 5439.12 0.53 Argentina MerVal 35852.14 -1.78 Colombia IGBC 11979.86 -0.24 Currencies daily % change Latest Brazil real 3.7631 -0.05 Mexico peso 19.2765 -0.32 Chile peso 654.1 -0.20 Colombia peso 3122.4 -0.42 Peru sol 3.313 0.15 Argentina peso (interbank) 39.4700 0.51 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru and Lais Martins in Sao Paulo; Editing by Peter Cooney)