EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil leads Latam losses after record rise in coronavirus infections
By Shreyashi Sanyal and Ambar Warrick
July 23 (Reuters) - Brazil's real led Latin American currencies lower on Thursday after record daily increases in coronavirus cases and Argentina left investors scurrying for safety.
The real BRBY slipped 1.5% against the dollar, while Argentina's peso ARS= also weakened as the total number of cases in Latin America passed 4 million, underlining the difficulty the region is facing in controlling the pandemic.
Currencies of oil-exporters Mexico MXN= and Colombia COP= fell as crude prices slipped on concerns about rising U.S. oil inventories. O/R
The Mexican peso will be on the radar for investors ahead of next month's meeting of the central bank, also known as Banxico.
Data showed Mexican inflation gained speed in the first half of July, pushing up from the central bank's 3% target and potentially limiting how much room policymakers have to further cut rates.
"Policymakers are likely to focus on the persistent weakness of activity instead, so we continue to expect another 50bp rate cut at the next Banxico meeting in August," said Nikhil Sanghani, assistant economist at Capital Economics.
Consumer spending in Mexico is unlikely to pick up before year's end as the Mexico City area, the core consumer market, continues to suffer a high tally of coronavirus infections and deaths, Moody's Investors Service said on Wednesday.
Discouraging employment data from the United States also undercut sentiment for the day, as a recovery in the jobs market appeared to be stalling.
Losses on Wall Street spilled over into the region, with Brazilian stocks .BVSP leading losses.
Tax revenue in Brazil fell to a 16-year low in June as the coronavirus severely crimped economic activity.
Argentine stocks .MERV fell about 1.6%.
The Argentine government could cede ground to creditors on key legal terms as it looks to strike a deal to restructure around $65 billion in foreign debt, but the government will not increase overall cash flow in the payout, two sources told Reuters.
Chilean stocks .SPIPSA bucked the trend, rising 1.5% after Chile's Congress on Thursday gave its final approval to a bill that allows citizens to withdraw 10% of their pension savings to help ease the economic pain wrought by the coronavirus outbreak.
Losses in Chile's peso CLP= were somewhat mitigated as prices of its main export, copper, rose as available stockpiles in London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouses tumbled to a fifth of their level two months ago. MET/L
Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
Daily % change
MSCI Emerging Markets .MSCIEF
MSCI LatAm .MILA00000PUS
Brazil Bovespa .BVSP
Mexico IPC .MXX
Chile IPSA .SPIPSA
Argentina MerVal .MERV
Colombia COLCAP .COLCAP
Daily % change
Brazil real BRBY
Mexico peso MXN=D2
Chile peso CLP=CL
Colombia peso COP=
Peru sol PEN=PE
Argentina peso (interbank) ARS=RASL
(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Grant McCool)
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