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EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil's real steady after hawkish Copom minutes

    * Oil slide hits Mexico, Colombia FX
    * Copom minutes show inflation as top concern
    * Airlines weigh on Bovespa 

    By Sruthi Shankar
    March 23 (Reuters) - A firm dollar kept most emerging market
currencies under pressure on Tuesday, although Brazil's real
stabilized after the central bank minutes showed officials
discussing more interest rate hikes.
    Currencies of oil exporting countries, including Russia's
rouble and Mexico's and Colombia's pesos,
also took a hit from a near 4% drop in crude prices.
    Investors globally pulled away from riskier emerging market
assets, stocks and commodities after tit-for-tat sanctions
between China and the West, as well as new coronavirus lockdowns
in Europe that raised fears of a slow economic
recovery.
    Brazil's real, however, found support after minutes
of the central bank's March 16-17 meeting showed policymakers
were ready to raise rates by another 75 basis points in May to
bring inflation back to target this year and keep 2022
expectations from taking off.
    "In our assessment, the minutes are more hawkish than the
post-meeting communique, particularly with regard to the
constructive view on activity and decline of slack in the
economy...," Alberto Ramos, head of Latin American research at
Goldman Sachs, said in a client note.
    The minutes also suggested that policymakers' No. 1 concern
is inflation, which they insisted is still being driven by
"temporary" factors but is also being pushed higher by a
faster-than-expected decline in economic slack. 
    The currency hovered close to a record low before the
central bank's rate-setting committee, known as Copom, hiked the
Selic rate last week by a bigger-than-expected 75 basis points
to head off rising inflation.
    A survey by asset manager Russell Investments published on
Tuesday showed a preference among money managers for the real as
the most attractive emerging market currency in the next 12
months.
    Stocks in Sao Paulo, however, fell as airline shares
came under pressure again. Shares in Azul SA and Gol
Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA fell 3% and 2%
respectively. 
    Latin American equities tracked cautious Wall Street
sentiment ahead of remarks from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair
Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for clues on
the health of the U.S. economy.
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
                                       Latest       Daily %
                                                     change
 MSCI Emerging Markets                    1324.89       -0.85
 MSCI LatAm                               2306.72       -0.33
 Brazil Bovespa                         114392.00       -0.51
 Mexico IPC                              47228.47        0.01
 Chile IPSA                               4803.38       -0.58
 Argentina MerVal                               -          - 
 Colombia COLCAP                          1318.45       -0.46 Currencies                  Latest       Daily %
                                                     change
 Brazil real                               5.5100        0.14
 Mexico peso                              20.6637       -0.53
 Chile peso                                 720.2       -0.51
 Colombia peso                            3572.59       -0.43
 Peru sol                                  3.7167       -0.13
 Argentina peso (interbank)               91.6300       -0.07
                                                   
 

 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan
Grebler)
  
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