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EMERGING MARKETS-Mexican peso at 2-week high, real slides on pandemic woes

    * Mexican peso trades at 2-week high 
    * Brazil detects new virus variant 
    * Most Latam stock markets closed on Thurs

    By Sruthi Shankar
    April 1 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies were mixed on
Thursday, with the Mexican peso trading at a two-week high
against the dollar, while the Brazilian real weakened as data
underscored the economic damaged caused by the COVID-19
pandemic.
    The peso rose 0.5% to trade at 20.3 per dollar,
outperforming its Latin American peers as crude prices jumped
almost 1% on hopes that OPEC and its allies will keep production
curbs in place, lifting the oil exporter's currency.
    The peso shed 2.7% in value against the dollar in the first
quarter, still faring better than a 5.6% drop for a wider index
of Latin American currencies as investors hoped
that a strong U.S. economy recovery will help the trade-reliant
neighbor, Mexico. 
    "The spillover from the recent U.S. stimulus package has
improved Mexico's medium-term outlook and will support an
export-led recovery, especially in the second half of the year,"
Wilson Ferrarezi, an economist at TS Lombard wrote in a note. 
    As per a Reuters poll of economists, the peso is likely to
appreciate 1% to 20.32 per U.S. dollar in one year. The real,
meanwhile, is seen at 5.31 per U.S. dollar in 12 months,
representing an expected 8.4% gain from Wednesday but a big 3.9%
drop from last month's survey.
    The real currency was last trading down 1% at 5.686
per dollar. 
    Adding to Brazil's pandemic woes, a new COVID-19 variant 
similar to the one first seen in South Africa was detected as
the country notched another record daily death toll.

    Data showed industrial production in Brazil fell in February
for the first time in 10 months, an unexpected decline that adds
weight to a growing view that Latin America's largest economy
shrank in the first quarter.
    Investors were also nervous about the country's fiscal
health after Treasury this week warned the 2021 budget approved
by Congress threatens one of the government's key pillars of
fiscal stability.
    The Colombian and the Chilean pesos edged up 
against the dollar, though trading overall was thin ahead of the
long weekend.
    Among stocks, Brazil's Bovespa fell 0.4% on worries
about the pandemic even as global stocks rallied on hopes of a
strong global economic recovery. Stock markets in Mexico,
Colombia and Argentina were closed on account of Easter
holidays.

    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
                                       Latest       Daily %
                                                     change
 MSCI Emerging Markets                    1337.44         1.6
 MSCI LatAm                               2285.48       -0.72
 Brazil Bovespa                         116160.48       -0.41
 Mexico IPC                                     -           -
 Chile IPSA                               4891.21       -0.14
 Argentina MerVal                              -           - 
 Colombia COLCAP                                -          - Currencies                  Latest       Daily %
                                                     change
 Brazil real                               5.6875       -1.03
 Mexico peso                              20.3140        0.53
 Chile peso                                   716        0.54
 Colombia peso                            3647.25        0.32
 Peru sol                                  3.7427        0.00
 Argentina peso (interbank)                     -           -
                                                   
 

 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru
Editing by Alistair Bell)
  
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