April 12, 2018 / 3:28 PM / a year ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Weak retail figures keep a lid on Brazilian real

    SAO PAULO, April 12 (Reuters) - The Brazilian real traded
flat against the dollar on Thursday,  despite other regional
currencies posting gains, as weak retail sales figures raised
bets of more monetary easing in Latin America's largest economy.
    The Brazilian government said February retail sales
unexpectedly contracted, falling 0.2 percent from January, below
even the most pessimistic forecast of a 0.3 percent increase in
a Reuters poll of economists.
    Traders said the data cleared the way for the nation's
central bank to keep cutting the benchmark Selic rate, which
currently stands at 6.5 percent, keeping a lid on the real.
    "The retail statistics open the door for a 6.25 percent
Selic rate without issues," said a Sao Paulo derivatives trader.
    "If retail is weak, it doesn't generate inflation, and the
central bank can keep cutting."
    The Brazilian real had climbed a modest 0.02 percent against
the dollar in late morning trade, lagging other major currencies
in Latin America.
    The Mexican peso climbed 0.55 percent on Thursday amid
optimism over North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations
and a decision by Moody's on Wednesday to revise the nation's
credit outlook to "stable" from "negative."
    Colombia's peso currency jumped 0.52 percent, following
higher oil prices, which hovered near four-year highs amid
shrinking global inventories and expectations of a supply cut
extension by OPEC.
    Across Latin America, equities markets were mixed.
    Among the largest winners on the Bovespa, which was off 0.06
percent, was state electricity company Centrais Eletricas
Brasileiras SA, known as Eletrobras. 
    The country's newly appointed finance minister said on
Wednesday night that the company needed to be privatized before
the end of June, and a congressional committee approved hearings
on the matter after several delays and cancellations. 
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1447 GMT:    
 Stock indexes                           daily %     YTD %
                             Latest       change    change
 MSCI Emerging Markets         1175.96      0.04      1.47
 MSCI LatAm                    3061.41       0.2      8.03
 Brazil Bovespa               85190.59    -0..06     11.50
 Mexico IPC                   48587.16      0.11     -1.55
 Chile IPSA                    5623.94      0.18      1.07
 Chile IGPA                   28126.66      0.16      0.52
 Argentina MerVal             32094.34       0.2      6.75
 Colombia IGBC                12166.17     -1.12      7.00
 Currencies                              daily %     YTD %
                                          change    change
 Brazil real                    3.3846      0.02     -2.11
 Mexico peso                   18.1200      0.55      8.71
 Chile peso                     596.28      0.22      3.08
 Colombia peso                 2706.68      0.52     10.17
 Peru sol                        3.228      0.15      0.28
 Argentina peso                20.1550      0.06     -7.72
 Argentina peso                  20.41      0.15     -5.78
 (Reporting by Gram Slattery and Claudia Violante; Editing by
Dan Grebler)
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