August 22, 2019 / 2:22 PM / 24 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies slip as investors await Powell speech

    Aug 22 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies edged lower on
Thursday, as investors awaited a speech from the U.S. Federal
Reserve chief Jerome Powell for clarity on interest rate cuts
after minutes from the latest meeting dimmed hopes of aggressive
easing.
    After riding a rough week on recession worries, financial
markets have stabilized in the recent days on hopes that
policymakers will support growth in their slowing economies
through stimulus measures.
    U.S. central bank policymakers, however, were skeptical of a
series of rate cuts, July minutes released on Wednesday showed,
leaving traders to stick to bets of a 25-basis point rate cut at
the September meeting. 
    Investors are looking forward to Powell's speech at Jackson
Hole, Wyoming, on Friday to see how far the U.S. central bank is
prepared to lower rates, likely setting the tone for markets in
the short-term.
    Leading losses among regional currencies, the Brazilian real
 fell 0.4% after two straight days of gains.
    Brazil's markets were coming off a strong showing on
Wednesday, helped by reports President Jair Bolsonaro wanted to
privatize state-owned oil company Petrobras before
the end of his term in 2022. Shares of power company Eletrobras
 also soared as the government said it would renew
efforts to privatize it.
    The Bovespa, which gained nearly 2% on Wednesday,
was flat. 
    The Mexican peso dropped 0.3% after data showed
inflation eased more than expected during the first half of
August, likely creating room for the central bank to lower
borrowing costs in the coming months.
    Argentina's peso steadied at $54.75 per dollar after
economic advisors to presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez
said they would seek alternatives to the current
administration's austerity measures.
    The peso shed nearly 18% last week after Fernandez pulled
off a major lead over business-friendly President Mauricio Macri
in a primary vote, stoking fears of a return to populist
policies and battering emerging markets.

    Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1348 GMT:
    
 MSCI Emerging Markets       978.68    -0.45
                                     
 MSCI LatAm                 2616.33    -0.12
                                     
 Brazil Bovespa           101153.83    -0.05
                                     
 Mexico IPC                       -        -
                                     
 Chile IPSA                 4780.54    -0.08
                                     
 Argentina MerVal                 -        -
                                     
 Colombia IGBC                    -        -
                                     
                                            
      Currencies           Latest    Daily %
                                     change
 Brazil real                 4.0437    -0.35
                                     
 Mexico peso                19.7482    -0.31
                                     
 Chile peso                   711.2     0.01
                                     
 Colombia peso               3373.6     0.32
                                     
 Peru sol                    3.3798    -0.11
                                     
 Argentina peso             54.6000     0.79
 (interbank)                         
                                     
 

 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru
Editing by Nick Zieminski)
  
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