Latam FX mostly firm; Brazil hit by Petrobras, pension woes

By Susan Mathew

April 12 () - Most Latin American currencies firmed against a weaker U.S. dollar on Friday amid signs of stabilization in China's economy, while assets in Brazil fell as a slump in Petrobras and uncertainty around much anticipated pension reforms weighed.

Data on Friday showed that China's exports rebounded to a five-month high in March, but imports shrank for a fourth straight month and at a faster pace, painting a mixed picture of the economy. MKTS/GLOB

Mexico's peso rose 0.4 percent and touched its highest level in over three weeks during the session. The currency firmed four out of five days this week, taking gains on the week to 1.7 percent.

Higher oil prices also aided the currency's gains as well as crude-exporting peer Colombia's peso currency . Chile's peso scaled a five-week high during the session and closed 0.5 percent higher. O/RMET/L

While most other regional stock indexes ended the day lower, shares in Mexico closed up 0.2 percent boosted by an 11 percent surge in Santander Mexico after its Spanish parent offered to take full control of its Mexican business through a 2.6 billion euro ($2.9 billion) deal.

In Brazil, the currency ended about 0.6 percent lower, while stocks slid nearly 2 percent and hit an over two-week low.

Brazil'sPetroleo Brasileiro SA , slumped over 7.7 percent after it canceled a diesel price hike as President Jair Bolsonaro called for "fair" prices out of concern for truckers, spooking investors wary of political interference at the state-run oil firm.

"The question is to what extent this decision was technical and absent of political interference - which is something that we have seen happen in the past and left the state in a complicated situation," said Sabrina Cassiano an analyst at Coinvalores.

Meanwhile, as debates about the pension reform proposal progress, Brazilian police accused lower house speaker Rodrigo Maia of receiving bribes totaling at least 1.4 million reais ($361,869).

The accusations could prove a headache for Bolsonaro's government, which is relying on Maia to guide its thorny reforms through an unpredictable Congress.

Uncertainties over the pace of reform have haunted markets in recent days with the local stock index slipping for the fourth straight session and logging a weekly loss of 4.4 percent.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2100 GMT:

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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