August 25, 2017 / 8:47 PM / a year ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies firm after Yellen speech; Chile stocks hit high

 (Adds details on Chilean stocks, analyst comment; changes
dateline, previous SAO PAULO)
    By Sheky Espejo
    MEXICO CITY, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Most Latin American
currencies firmed on Friday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen refrained from commenting on monetary policy in a
speech, easing concerns of investors who had braced for a
hawkish signal.
    Chilean stocks rose to a record high, boosted by gains in
miner SQM and LATAM Airlines. 
    At a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellen said
regulations put in place after the 2007-2009 financial crisis
had strengthened the financial system without impeding economic
growth, and any future changes should remain modest.

    Further supporting Mexico's peso were minutes this week from
the last central bank meeting that suggested policymakers will
not soon move to cut borrowing costs, which were raised to a
more than eight-year high to fight a spike in inflation.
    "With a hawkish Banxico and low volatility the landscape is
still positive for EM currencies," said Juan Carlos Alderete,
strategist at Banorte-Ixe.
    Mexico's peso firmed more that 0.7 percent while the
Colombian peso gained nearly 1.3 percent. 
    A batch of mixed U.S. economic data have cast a shadow on
the nation's economic recovery, driving some investors to dial
back bets on an interest rate increase by the Fed this year.
    A slower path of U.S. rate hikes could boost demand for
high-yielding assets, benefiting currencies from emerging-market
    In Brazil, shares of meatpacker JBS SA jumped
after an anti-corruption division within the Brazilian
prosecutor general's office on Thursday approved a leniency deal
with its controlling shareholder, J&F Investimentos SA.

    Also boosting appetite for JBS shares was a Reuters report
that state development bank BNDES is doing all it can to remove
Chief Executive Officer Wesley Batista, who is at the center of
a corruption scandal, from the company.
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2002 GMT:
 Stock indexes                     Latest       Daily     YTD
                                                  pct     pct
                                               change  change
 MSCI Emerging Markets               1,087.38    0.46   25.53
 MSCI LatAm                          2,888.66   -0.04   23.46
 Brazil Bovespa                     71,017.22   -0.16   17.92
 Mexico IPC                         51,355.15   -0.22   12.52
 Chile IPSA                          5,176.11    0.45   24.68
 Chile IGPA                         25,842.31    0.45   24.64
 Argentina MerVal                   23,521.36    0.55   39.03
 Colombia IGBC                      10,897.56   -0.27    7.60
 Venezuela IBC                     203,085.94    1.67  540.54
 Currencies                            Latest   Daily     YTD
                                                  pct     pct
                                               change  change
 Brazil real                           3.1528   -0.23    3.04
 Mexico peso                          17.6000    0.72   17.86
 Chile peso                             634.2    0.54    5.76
 Colombia peso                          2,923    1.27    2.69
 Peru sol                               3.236    0.03    5.50
 Argentina peso (interbank)           17.2100    0.00   -7.76
 Argentina peso (parallel)              18.23    0.16   -7.73
 (Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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