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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies extend gains as Fed stands pat on rates

(Adds market reaction to Fed rate decision)
    By Bruno Federowski
    SAO PAULO, Sept 21 Latin American stocks and
currencies extended gains on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal
Reserve left rates unchanged and signaled that the pace of rate
hikes could be slower than expected.
    The Brazilian real firmed 1.5 percent to as much as
3.2097 per U.S. dollar, its strongest in over a week. The
Chilean peso  posted its best daily gain since
Sept. 6.
    The Fed repeated that the case for a rate increase had
strengthened, but cut the number of rate increases it expected
this year to one from two previously and forecast a less
aggressive tightening over the next two years. 
    "U.S. rates are going up soon but the cycle will be smaller
than previously expected. That's good news for Brazil but
traders are currently more focused in local fiscal prospects and
the possibility of rate cuts at home," said Coinvalores
strategist Paulo Nepomuceno. 
    Keeping U.S. rates lower for longer would benefit risky
emerging market assets, which tend to lure foreign capital with
higher financial returns.
    The Mexican peso  rose less than its peers,
paring back losses to about 13 percent this year.
    Mexico's finance minister said there was no decision yet on
whether the government would intervene to stem the currency's
recent slide but that there would be a meeting next week to
evaluate it. 
    Most Latin American stocks and currencies were already
higher before the Fed announcement as traders cheered an
overhaul of the Bank of Japan's policies after years of
unprecedented money printing proved ineffective.
    The BOJ will switch to targeting interest rates on
government debt instead of setting a fixed amount of bonds to be
purchased each month. The bank also committed to letting
inflation overshoot its elusive 2 percent target. 
    Nevertheless, Credit Suisse strategist Andrew Garthwaite
said the move should be seen as more of a "tightening of policy
than an easing."
    "The market does not believe the inflation target, and our
economists are also extremely skeptical the BOJ will succeed in
generating sustainable inflation," he wrote in a client email.
    Brazil's Bovespa benchmark stock index rose 0.4
percent, supported by a rise in shares of miner Vale SA
. O Globo newspaper reported that the company would 
sell two-thirds of its fertilizer unit to Mosaic Co for $3
billion. 
    But gains were limited by falling shares of payment
processor Cielo SA, after Goldman Sachs cut its price
target for the stock.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1610:
 Stock indexes                    Latest     Daily   YTD pct
                                              pct    change
                                            change   
 MSCI Emerging Markets              909.16     1.15    13.18
                                                     
 MSCI LatAm                       2,372.86     1.17    28.17
 Brazil Bovespa                  57,948.79     0.37    33.68
 Mexico IPC                      46,747.99     0.88     8.77
 Chile IPSA                       4,071.34      0.2    10.63
 Chile IGPA                      20,263.52     0.21    11.64
 Argentina MerVal                16,124.60     0.69    38.11
 Colombia IGBC                    9,855.09    -0.01    15.30
 Venezuela IBC                   12,044.68    -1.65   -17.44
                                                            
 Currencies                       Latest     Daily   YTD pct
                                              pct    change
                                            change   
 Brazil real                        3.2113     1.50    22.91
 Mexico peso                       19.7500     0.32   -12.76
 Chile peso                          664.8     0.90     6.75
 Colombia peso                       2,894     0.71     9.51
 Peru sol                            3.367     0.65     1.40
 Argentina peso (interbank)        15.1400     0.03   -14.25
                                                     
 Argentina peso (parallel)           15.63     0.83    -8.70
                                                     
 
 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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