EMERGING MARKETS-Most Latam FX rise, Argentine peso hits record closing low
By Susan Mathew
April 26 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies firmed against a weaker dollar on Friday, while Argentina's peso ARS= hit an all-time closing low at the end of a rough week due to economic and political concerns.
MSCI's index of Latin American currencies .MILA00000CUS rose 0.7 percent as a dollar rally took a pause after soft U.S. inflation data. FRX/ The Latam index fell 1.3 percent on the week after two weeks of gains.
The Argentine peso ARS= fell 1.8 percent, taking weekly losses to 9.2 percent - its steepest weekly drop since late September.
The currency hit a record low last session as biting recession and runaway inflation threatened President Mauricio Macri's chances at being re-elected this October.
Ilya Gofshteyn, a senior emerging markets strategist at Standard Chartered Bank, said volatility would continue until the elections, and that investors would demand high returns to stay in the market given the risks.
The peso halved in value against the dollar last year and has lost 18 percent so far this year.
Meanwhile, Brazil's real BRL=, which also saw a volatile week as a crucial pension reform proposal progressed through a Congressional committee, rose 0.6 percent on the day, but logged losses for a third straight week.
Brazil's Central Bank President Roberto Campos Neto said on Friday there was no imminent change expected in the way the bank conducts monetary policy, reiterating expectations for a medium-term economic recovery.
Sao Paulo-listed stocks fell 0.3 percent as sliding crude prices pressured index heavyweight state oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro PETR4.SA, while meat processor JBS SA JBSS3.SA fell after hitting an all-time high on Thursday.
Colombia's peso COP= firmed 0.1 percent on the day, after the central bank kept the interest rate unchanged, as expected, at 4.25 percent to bolster growth.
Colombia's shares lost with oil firm Ecopetrol ECO.CN down 2.3 percent.
Mexico's peso MXN= rose 0.4 percent, but lost 0.9 percent on the week. Stocks in Mexico City .MXX extended losses to a four straight session with banking stock Gentera SAB de CV GENTERA.MX the worst performer, down 5.6 percent, after J.P. Morgan downgraded it to 'neutral' from 'overweight'.
Equities in Argentina .MERV and Chile .SPCLXIPSA rose, in line with world stocks. MKTS/GLOB
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2100 GMT:
Daily % change
MSCI Emerging Markets .MSCIEF
MSCI LatAm .MILA00000PUS
Brazil Bovespa .BVSP
Mexico IPC .MXX
Chile IPSA .SPCLXIPSA
Argentina MerVal .MERV
Colombia IGBC .IGBC
Daily % change
Brazil real BRL=
Mexico peso MXN=D2
Chile peso CLP=CL
Colombia peso COP=
Peru sol PEN=PE
Argentina peso (interbank) ARS=RASL
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru and Walter Bianchi in Buenos Aires Editing by Sonya Hepinstalll)
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