February 21, 2018 / 5:38 PM / 3 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latin American currencies cautious ahead of Fed minutes

    By Bruno Federowski
    SAO PAULO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies
seesawed on Wednesday as traders awaited the release of the
minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting that could
offer clues on the pace of future U.S. interest rate hikes.
    Currencies from Brazil, Mexico and Chile
 treaded water, while the Colombian peso weakened
0.8 percent.
    Traders have been anxiously awaiting new hints over the
Fed's strategy in coming months following an unexpectedly strong
increase in wages, which stoked concerns of inflationary
pressure.
    "Investors expect the Fed to strike a firmer tone over the
outlook for interest rates going forward," Banco Bradesco
economists wrote in a note to clients.
    Higher U.S. rates could draw capital away from
higher-yielding but riskier emerging markets.
    Stock markets in Latin America were mostly higher, with
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index rising for a
sixth straight session.
    Shares of Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA
jumped for a second day in a row and were the biggest gainers on
the index on investor optimism over plans to privatize the
state-owned power utility.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1720 GMT:
 Stock indexes                     Latest       Daily  YTD pct
                                                  pct   change
                                               change  
 MSCI Emerging Markets              1,211.50     1.42     3.11
 MSCI LatAm                         3,125.87     0.33    10.16
 Brazil Bovespa                    86,496.15     0.81    13.21
 Mexico IPC                        48,610.82    -0.15    -1.51
 Chile IPSA                         5,681.17     0.14     2.09
 Chile IGPA                        28,531.32     0.14     1.97
 Argentina MerVal                  32,868.97     0.13     9.32
 Colombia IGBC                     11,734.79     0.14     3.20
 Venezuela IBC                      5,260.54     1.59   -83.41
                                                              
 Currencies                           Latest    Daily  YTD pct
                                                  pct   change
                                               change  
 Brazil real                          3.2576    -0.09     1.71
 Mexico peso                         18.6675     0.15     5.53
 Chile peso                            594.8     0.02     3.34
 Colombia peso                      2,881.81    -0.77     3.48
 Peru sol                              3.249     0.06    -0.37
 Argentina peso (interbank)          19.9000    -0.10    -6.53
                                                       
 Argentina peso (parallel)             20.05     0.55    -4.09
                                                       
 
 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski, editing by G Crosse)
  
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