By Aaron Saldanha
April 5 () - An index of Latin American stocks rose to a more than two week closing peak on Friday, helped by solid gains in index heavyweights Brazil and Mexico, with broad risk sentiment buoyed by hopes of smoother U.S.-China trade.
Brazilian Finance Minister Paulo Guedes said commitment to reforming the country's pension system across the political spectrum was solid, presenting an image of unity with some of the key congressional figures whose support he needs to pass the proposal.
"We were relatively busy for a Friday today," said Roger K. Horn, senior EM strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities America, adding the government's pension reform proposal "seemed to get a little more support today from leaders of Congress."
MSCI's index of Latin American stocks rose 1.3 percent, to post a weekly gain of 3.2 percent.
Sao Paulo-traded stocks rose 0.8 percent, aided by strength across most sectors.
State-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) saw its common shares and preferred shares rise 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Along with higher oil prices, Petrobras shares were boosted by the news of its biggest ever divestment, with an Engie-led consortium offering $8.6 billion for 90 percent of gas pipeline unit TAG.
Mexican stocks tacked on 2.4 percent on Friday, to finish the week 3.9 percent higher.
Shares of America Movil SAB de CV surged 4.2 percent. JP Morgan upgraded the telecom firm's U.S.-listed stock to an "Overweight" rating and raised its price target to $17 from $16.
The Mexican peso, one of the developing world's most liquid currencies, firmed 0.4 percent.
The spread, or surplus yield, of local 10-year Mexican bonds over their U.S. peers saw its lowest level in about a week and a half, at just under 546 basis points.
Argentina's stocks benchmark rose 1.6 percent, as it continued its recovery from Wednesday's 3.8 percent slide.
The country's peso softened to a record closing low. The central bank cut the interest rate payable on short-term "Leliq" notes.
"Argentina was under pressure again with most bonds closing near the lows of the day," said SMBC Nikko's Horn.
Colombia's peso firmed 0.2 percent, benefiting from a 1.4 percent rise in oil prices, while local stocks tacked on half a percent.
The optimism broadly seen across the region did not support Chilean stocks, which fell half a percent.
Chile's peso softened a touch, with a decline in the price of copper, the country's top export, in the backdrop.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2056 GMT
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MSCI Emerging Markets
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Argentina peso (interbank)
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