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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX slip as virus concerns take hold, stocks advance

    * Argentine peso extends losses on wider fiscal deficit
    * Mexico's peso cuts monthly gains
    * Brazil's retail, apparel companies hit by new curbs

 (Adds economic analyst comment, updates prices)
    By Medha Singh
    Dec 22 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies slipped on
Tuesday, undermined by the safe haven dollar's demand on fears
over a new variant of the novel coronavirus but stocks in the
region recovered in a holiday shortened week.
    MSCI's index of stocks in Latin America
bounced back 0.3% after suffering its worst day in about two
months, with benchmarks in Brazil and Colombia
posting the sharpest gains.
    Brazil's real dropped for the third straight day at
5.1624 per dollar as Sao Paulo state government ordered
restaurants and shopping malls to stay closed for Christmas and
New Year after infection rates rose by 54% in the past four
weeks.
    Shares of Brazil's retail and clothing companies Via Varejo
, Lojas Renner, Cia Hering shed
between 0.8% and 2.7% on the news.
    New restrictions in Brazil, Mexico and Chile to curb the
spread of the virus has fueled worries of more economic pain,
slowing the sharp recovery in Latin American stocks and equities
in December.
    "Stringent restrictions and high caseloads suggest that
economic activity in (Latin America) will probably get worse
before it gets better," said William Jackson, economist at
Capital Economics, adding that an economic boost from a vaccine
may only come in the second half of 2021.
    The Mexican peso and the Colombian peso also
slid on fears the latest restrictions will dent fuel demand. 

    Stricter lockdowns implemented in Britain on Monday to fight
a variant of the coronavirus roiled global markets in the
previous session.
    However, Washington's approval of an $892 billion pandemic
relief package after months of inaction is helping them recover
some of those losses.
    The Argentine peso recorded breaching its record low
in the previous session after it reported a wider fiscal deficit
in November.
    Shares in Mexican telecommunications company Axtel
 fell about 12%, a day after the firm announced it
had scrapped a plan to sell the business as a whole and instead
seek buyers for its two units individually.
    Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
    
 Stock indexes                                  daily % change
                                    Latest     
 MSCI Emerging Markets                1248.56            -0.67
 MSCI LatAm                           2406.66             0.29
 Brazil Bovespa                     116569.11             0.64
 Mexico IPC                          42653.73            -1.37
 Chile IPSA                           4190.03             0.65
 Argentina MerVal                    50409.29            0.497
 Colombia COLCAP                      1401.17             1.73 Currencies                                     daily % change
                                               
                                       Latest  
 Brazil real                           5.1592             0.04
 Mexico peso                          20.1430            -1.00
 Chile peso                             722.4             0.48
 Colombia peso                        3463.17            -0.99
 Peru sol                              3.6117            -0.19
 Argentina peso (interbank)           83.2400            -0.11
                                               
 
    

 (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Grant
McCool)
  
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