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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks hold ground, FX gains ground against tepid dollar

(Recasts throughout; updates prices, adds market strategist's quote) By Aaron Saldanha May 10 (Reuters) - A Latin American stocks benchmark held ground on Friday, while currencies in Latin America broadly firmed against a tepid dollar, as investors' exposure towards riskier assets ticked up amid rising hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said there had been "constructive discussions" between the two countries' negotiators, supporting general risk sentiment towards Latin American assets.

China imports a large amount of Latin America's resources exports, leaving the region sensitive to slowing growth in the world's second largest economy.

"We continue to believe a deal will be found, the Chinese economy will continue to grow around the 6% mark this year," said Gary Greenberg, head of global emerging markets at Hermes Investment Management.

MSCI's index of Latin American stocks marked time on the day and posted a 2.9% decline for the week, during which time it has been whipsawed by U.S.-China trade ructions.

MSCI's Latin American currencies index gained 0.2% on Friday.

Mexican stocks gained 0.4%, with lender Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV tacking on 2.2%. The peso firmed 0.7%.

"We expect the central bank to leave the reference rate unchanged at 8.25%," Banorte Senior Economist Juan Carlos Alderete and Economist Francisco José Flores Serrano wrote in a note about next week's Banco de Mexico rate meeting.

Brazilian stocks fell 0.6%, amid a slew of earnings results.

BRF SA slid 2.8% as the world's top chicken exporter posted a third straight quarterly loss, burdened by rising feed costs.

State-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA's (Petrobras) common shares ended flat, while its preferred shares fell 0.6% despite firmer Brent crude futures.

Brazil's national energy council late on Thursday published updated parameters for an oil auction scheduled for later this year, including minimum levels of profit-sharing with the government.

Vale SA rose 1.9%, as the miner's chief financial officer said it expects iron ore production at its Samarco joint venture, shuttered by a 2015 dam burst, to resume in 2020's second half.

It also provided an update on a mine involved in a deadly dam burst earlier this year.

Brazil's real weakened 0.3%. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said that while support in congress for the government's flagship pension reform bill is rising, dialogue with lawmakers is proving problematic.

Argentina's stocks dived 2.1% as it gave back some ground gained over the previous two sessions. The peso firmed, taking advantage of a lack of strength in the dollar.

Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2012 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1,033.44 0.49 MSCI LatAm 2,656.22 0 Brazil Bovespa 94,257.56 -0.58 Mexico IPC 43,382.35 0.44 Chile IPSA 5,050.57 0.1 Argentina MerVal 33,393.81 -2.13 Colombia IGBC 12,661.82 0.68 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 3.9566 -0.33 Mexico peso 19.0954 0.00 Chile peso 685.5 -0.15 Colombia peso 3,272.1 0.00 Peru sol 3.315 -0.06 Argentina peso (interbank) 44.8000 1.12 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru and Tom Arnold in London; editing by Grant McCool)