May 12, 2020 / 8:26 PM / 14 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Mexican peso steers Latam FX lower, virus woes remain

    * IMF says more global growth forecasts cuts "very likely" 
    * Expectations of Banxico rate cut rises 
    * China announces new tariff waivers for some U.S. imports

 (Adds comments, updates prices)
    By Shreyashi Sanyal
    May 12 (Reuters) - The Mexican peso led declines among its
Latin American counterparts on Tuesday, after fresh data
highlighted the pain inflicted by global lockdowns, while
worries of a potential second wave of new infections persisted. 
 
    The number of new cases in countries such as Mexico, Russia
and Brazil remained worryingly high but risk appetite in the
past week was supported by the gradual reopening of the certain
economies in Asia, Europe and parts of the United States. 
    Mexico's peso dropped 1.5% against the dollar as data
showed industrial output fell in March from February and was 5%
lower year-over-year.
    All eyes will now be on the Mexican central bank's policy
meeting on Thursday.  
    "The breakdown of the March data showed broad-based
weakness, with mining, utilities and manufacturing all
contracting on the month," emerging markets economists at
Capital Economics wrote. 
    "The government remains seemingly reluctant to loosen fiscal
policy aggressively, so Banxico will continue to do the heavy
lifting. There is a high chance of a 100bp cut at its meeting on
Thursday."
    The dollar dropped after the World Health Organization said
it was focusing on some treatments that appeared to be limiting
the severity or length of COVID-19, the respiratory illness
caused by the novel coronavirus.
    Meanwhile, China announced a new list of 79 U.S. products
including ores of rare earth metals, gold ores and silver ores
for waivers from retaliatory tariffs, amid continued pressure on
Beijing to boost imports from the United States. 
    Brazil's real reversed earlier gains to fall 0.9%,
while the Colombian and Chilean pesos, firmed 0.4%
and 0.1% respectively.
    As uncertainties rise, analysts warn of deteriorating risk
appetite.
    International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina
Georgieva said it was "very likely" the Fund would cut global
growth forecasts further as the coronavirus pandemic was hitting
many economies harder than previously projected.
    "We are skeptical that within the next few months we will
witness substantial capital inflows into emerging market assets
and because of that the EM currencies will struggle to gain a
sustainable bullish momentum against the U.S. dollar," Rabobank
FX strategists Jane Foley and Piotr Matys wrote. 
    Sentiment was further dulled by signs of a second wave of
the coronavirus pandemic after China, South Korea and Germany
reported a spike in the number of new cases. Fears grew that
recently re-opened economies may be forced back into lockdowns,
thus deepening the economic damage.
    Latin American central banks have been revising down
expectations for economic growth, with Chile being the latest.
The world's top copper producer's economy is expected to shrink
7.2% in the second quarter.
    Brazil, one of the emerging market countries hardest hit by
the pandemic, registered 5,632 new coronavirus cases on Monday,
taking its total tally to 168,331. Some have criticized
President Jair Bolsonaro for a lax attitude towards the
outbreak. 
    Data on Tuesday showed services activity in Brazil marked
its biggest monthly fall on record due to the pandemic.
     
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2007 GMT:
    
       Stock indexes                  Latest       Daily %
                                                   change
 MSCI Emerging Markets                    908.12      -0.85
                                                  
 MSCI LatAm                              1559.28      -2.36
 Brazil Bovespa                         78161.27      -1.14
 Mexico IPC                             37524.70      -0.28
 Chile IPSA                              3734.28      -2.03
                                                  
 Argentina MerVal                       39328.61      1.936
 Colombia COLCAP                         1089.29      -1.34
                                                  
                                                           
          Currencies                  Latest       Daily %
                                                   change
 Brazil real                              5.8751      -0.18
                                                  
 Mexico peso                             24.2580      -1.39
                                                  
 Chile peso                                822.5       0.16
 Colombia peso                           3883.75       0.10
 Peru sol                                 3.4328      -0.53
                                                  
 Argentina peso (interbank)              67.4500      -0.12
                                                  
 
 

 (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru
Editing by Paul Simao and Marguerita Choy)
  
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