March 7, 2018 / 10:34 PM / 5 months ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latin American equities down as tariff fears heat up

 (Updates prices, adds background on possible metal tariff
exemptions)
    SAO PAULO, March 7 (Reuters) - Latin American markets and
currencies were broadly down on Wednesday, after the departure
of a high-ranking economic aide to U.S. President Donald Trump
renewed fears of a global trade war.
    On Tuesday, Gary Cohn, the top economic advisor to Trump and
a voice for Wall Street in the White House, said he would
resign, after he lost a fight with Trump over a plan for steel
and aluminum import tariffs.
    Investors widely interpreted the move as clearing the path
for Trump to keep pushing for protectionist measures, sending
stocks of steelmakers sliding.
    Mexico's benchmark S&P/BMV IPC index led losses in
the region, down 0.46 percent, as the American president is set
to authorize the steep tariffs by the end of this week.
    Mexican cement maker Cemex let losses on the
index, with shares down more than 1 percent.
    A White House spokeswoman suggested on Wednesday the
possibility of excluding some countries from the tariffs, but
did not go into further detail.
    Brazil and Mexico, Latin America's two largest economies,
are both major steel exporters to the United States.
    Argentina's Merval stock index was down 0.37 percent on
Wednesday, while Colombia's IGBC lost 0.31 percent.
    In Brazil, Steelmakers Usinas Siderúrgicas de Minas Gerais
SA fell 2.84 percent while Vale SA, a
significant miner of steelmaking ingredient iron ore, was off
0.51 percent.
    "The market improved yesterday on the possibility that the
Trump administration might reverse its steel policy. But it
became clear that he's not going to reverse that position," said
Pedro Paulo Silveira, an economist at brokerage Nova Futura.
    Chile's IPSA index was up just 0.01 percent, after
the country posted its biggest trade surplus in four years in
February thanks to strong copper exports.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2148 GMT:
  
    
 Stock indexes           Latest    daily % change   YTD % change
                                                   
 MSCI Emerging           1189.20             -0.4           2.65
 Markets                                           
 MSCI LatAm              3085.38            -0.61            9.1
                                                   
 Brazil Bovespa         85483.55             -0.2          11.89
                                                   
 Mexico IPC             47662.12            -0.46          -3.43
                                                   
 Chile IPSA              5549.64             0.03          -0.27
                                                   
 Chile IGPA             27802.34             0.01          -0.64
                                                   
 Argentina MerVal       32743.55            -0.37           8.91
                                                   
 Colombia IGBC          11395.11            -0.31           0.22
                                                   
 Venezuela IBC           4868.07              2.7         285.39
                                                   
                                                                
 Currencies              Latest    daily % change   YTD % change
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
 Brazil real              3.2444            -0.05           2.12
                                                   
 Mexico peso             18.7135             0.15           5.27
                                                   
 Chile peso                602.6            -0.46           2.00
                                                   
 Colombia peso            2865.5            -0.44           4.07
                                                   
 Peru sol                  3.253            -0.09          -0.49
                                                   
 Argentina peso          20.3950            -0.27          -8.80
 (interbank)                                       
                                                   
 Argentina peso            20.45            -0.10          -5.97
 (parallel)                                        
                                                   
 
    

 (Reporting by Gram Slattery in Sao Paulo and David Alire Garcia
in Mexico City; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Susan Thomas)
  
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