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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam markets hold at 1-month highs as focus turns to China tariff deadline

By Ambar Warrick

* MSCI Latam stocks, currency indexes retain last-week's gains * Dec. 15 U.S.-China tariffs to delay likely EM recovery -analysts * Metal prices rise as strength in Chinese imports implies demand * Chilean peso up for fifth straight day after C.bank stimulus By Ambar Warrick Dec 9 (Reuters) - Latin American markets held around a month's high on Monday, building slightly on gains made last week as the focus turned to the upcoming deadline on further U.S. tariff action against China. Lower-than-expected export data from China served to remind investors of the economic slowdown bought about by the Sino-U.S. trade war, although markets have so far held out hope for an interim deal before the Dec. 15 deadline. "If the December 15 tariffs on China go ahead, then our view is going to come under more significant pressure, with the anticipated EM growth recovery pushed from Q1 2020 to Q3 2020," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note. Strong Chinese imports pointed to robust demand for copper within the country's manufacturing space, pushing up prices, while perceived increases in demand for iron ore in China's steel mills supported Chinese iron ore futures. Increased prices for the materials, which are major exports for Latin American economies, saw buying into assets linked to them, such as the Chilean peso and iron ore miner Vale SA , which is among the largest stocks on the Brazilian stock index. The Bovespa was flat but just a few points shy of a record high, with the index having conquered a new peak for a bulk of last week's sessions. Shares of Brazil's largest domestic airline, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, and those of its listed loyalty program, Smiles Fidelidade, were the top gainers on the Bovespa after the former offered to buy out the latter's minority shareholders at a roughly 25% premium. The MSCI's indexes of Latin American stocks and currencies hovered around one-month highs. The Brazilian real weakened slightly to the dollar after logging its best week in more than one month. The Chilean peso surged for a fifth straight session after the country's central bank launched a large stimulus program. The currency was also supported by stronger prices for copper, the country's top export. Argentina's peso was largely unchanged after President-elect Alberto Fernandez signaled a policy shift with his new cabinet. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 0210 GMT Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1051.84 0.27 MSCI LatAm 2741.72 0.31 Brazil Bovespa 111096.40 -0.03 Mexico IPC - - Chile IPSA 4717.20 -0.14 Argentina MerVal - - Colombia COLCAP 1611.67 0 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 4.1569 -0.29 Mexico peso 19.2935 0.04 Chile peso 770.5 0.85 Colombia peso 3418.01 0.07 Peru sol 3.3798 -0.08 Argentina peso 59.9300 0.03 (interbank) (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)