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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies subdued ahead of Fed meeting, stocks rise

    * Peso steady after lawmakers delay c.bank bill 
    * Analysts divided about Mexico rate cut on Thursday
    * Eyes on Fed decision due later in the day  

    By Shashank Nayar
    Dec 16 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies traded in
a tight range against a weaker dollar on Wednesday as investors
awaited the conclusion of a U.S. Federal Reserve policy meeting,
while an upbeat global mood lifted stocks in the region.
    The Mexican peso inched lower after rallying in the
previous session to strengthen past the 20-per-dollar barrier as
Mexican lawmakers agreed to postpone debating a divisive new
central bank law that critics say could force the bank to buy
laundered narcotics proceeds.
    President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that it was a
good decision to postpone the bill.
    All eyes are on the Mexican central bank meeting on Thursday
where policymakers are widely expected to leave benchmark
interest rates unchanged despite slowing inflation, a Reuters
poll showed. 
    A majority of the analysts and economists surveyed said they
expect the Bank of Mexico to hold rates steady at 4.25%, but a
few expect it to cut rates by 25 basis points.
    Credit Suisse analyst Alonso Cervera, who expects the bank
to cut rates on Thursday, said its recent upward revision to
inflation forecasts were "very modest," and that annual
inflation will end the year at 3.3% due to unexpectedly benign
inflation numbers at year-end. 
    Banxico unexpectedly kept the key rate unchanged at its last
monetary policy meeting, citing the need for a "pause" to weigh
inflationary pressures. 
    The Brazilian real, the Chilean peso and the
Colombian peso edged lower against the dollar, which
weakened against a basket of major currencies.
    U.S. Fed policymakers are expected to keep interest rates
near zero at the end of their two-day policy meeting later in
the day, and signal the Fed will stay there for years to come, a
decision that analysts say will further boost risk sentiment.
    An index of Latin American stocks rose 0.3%,
tracking global stocks as drugmakers rolled out COVID-19
vaccines and U.S. congressional leaders expressed optimism about
a coronavirus relief deal. 
           
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
    
                                       Latest       Daily %
                                                     change
 MSCI Emerging Markets                    1261.91        0.94
 MSCI LatAm                               2424.49        0.34
 Brazil Bovespa                         116223.07        0.06
 Mexico IPC                              43665.69        0.28
 Chile IPSA                               4098.80        0.91
 Argentina MerVal                        53811.24       0.997
 Colombia COLCAP                          1403.07       -0.35 Currencies                  Latest       Daily %
                                                     change
 Brazil real                               5.1033       -0.37
 Mexico peso                              19.9400       -0.26
 Chile peso                                 736.5       -0.08
 Colombia peso                            3414.56        0.08
 Peru sol                                  3.5887       -0.11
 Argentina peso (interbank)               82.6200       -0.10
                                                   
 

 (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan
Oatis)
  
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