April 18, 2019 / 6:01 PM / a year ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil stocks rise, currency slides in muted trade

 (NOTE: There will be no Latam-focused emerging market report on
Friday on account of Good Friday. Reuters will resume coverage
on Monday, April 22)
    April 18 (Reuters) - Stocks in Brazil rose on Thursday and
were on track to end the week higher, led by gains in shares of
financial companies as the real        slipped against a strong
    MSCI's index of Latin American stocks                 edged
up 0.2 percent in thin trade as markets in the region were
closed for Holy Thursday. 
    Sao Paulo-traded stocks         rose over 1 percent to
recover from the previous session's loss with investors keeping
a close track on developments related to the country's proposed
pension reforms.  
    Brazil's economic growth could accelerate to a 3.5 percent
annual rate in the second half of the year with help from
approval of the reforms, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said in
an interview with TV channel Globonews.             
    He also said the government was considering ways of
strengthening supervision of pension funds that manage the
retirement plans of employees of state-controlled companies. 
    Investors remain concerned about the timely implementation
of the social security reforms. Several stumbling blocks have
delayed their passage through congress, forcing the central bank
and private sector economists to downgrade their 2019 growth
forecasts in recent weeks.
    Among stocks, digital lender Banco Inter SA            was
up nearly 4 percent after the medium-sized bank received
presidential approval to have up to 100 percent of its capital
held by foreigners. [nL1N2200QH
    Brazilian airline Azul            rose over 3 percent after
its chief executive, John Rodgerson said the airline was no
longer bidding for routes operated by Avianca Brasil, which
filed for bankruptcy protection in December.             
    The carrier also announced 200 more flights out of Sao
    A 7 percent decline in shares of card processor Cielo SA
           weighed on the index after after the card processing
unit of rival Itaú Unibanco Holding            cut interest
rates for small- and medium-sized merchants.             
    Stock markets were shut in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and
Peru for Holy Thursday.

 (Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh
Editing by Tom Brown)
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