January 14, 2020 / 3:34 PM / 8 days ago

EMERGING MARKETS-China data powers Chilean peso; most Latam currencies firm

    * China reports strong iron ore, copper imports
    * Brazilian miner Vale jumps to more-than-one-year high
    * Traders cautious on political unrest in Chile - analyst
    * All major Latin American stock indexes in the red

    By Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick
    Jan 14 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies gained
slightly on Tuesday, as better-than-expected trade data from
China lifted the Chilean peso, while investors also awaited the
signing of an initial U.S.-China trade deal later in the week.
    Data from China showed unwrought copper imports in December
rose to their highest level since March 2016, while iron ore
imports last year rose to just below their all-time annual peak.

    The figures helped boost prices of both materials, among the
biggest exports for Latin American economies including Brazil
and Chile, and lifted shares of Brazil's Vale, the
top exporter of iron ore, to their highest level in over a year.

    The Chilean peso firmed as much as 1% and was on
track for its best session in nearly a week, while Brazil's real
 gained 0.2% after declining for three days in a row. 
    The wider MSCI regional currencies index was
flat after earlier rising about 0.1%.
    Although demand for riskier assets has returned with a
broader brightening in sentiment this month, analysts said
traders were cautious about buying into Chile's currency in the
wake of rare anti-government protests last year.
    "Chile benefits from positive trade data from China, but we
have to see what happens on the political side," said You Na
Park-Heger, EM analyst at Commerzbank.
    Other Latin American assets have also logged choppy trading
in the past week as fragile economic growth in local economies
overshadowed optimism about concrete indications of a truce in
the bruising U.S.-China trade dispute.
    A basket of Latin American equities shed
0.4% on Tuesday, with all the major country indexes trading in
the red. By contrast, world stocks hovered near all-time highs.

    Brazil's stock index was down about 0.3%, declining
in seven of the past eight sessions as Latin America's biggest
economy missed out on the trade-fueled rally on a spate of mixed
economic indicators.
    On Tuesday, the Brazilian government raised the 2020 GDP
growth projection to 2.4% from 2.32%, adding that it expects
consumer prices measured by the IPCA index to rise 3.62% in the
year, up from its previous forecast of 3.53%.
    Chilean stocks fell 0.4%, while Mexican equities
 were down 0.5%, breaking a four-day winning streak.
Argentina's MerVal gave up 2.5% and was on course for
its worst session since mid-December.    
        
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1507 GMT:
   
     Stock indexes              Latest     Daily % change
 MSCI Emerging Markets           1142.92              -0.09
                                          
 MSCI LatAm                      2901.39              -0.35
                                          
 Brazil Bovespa                117017.64              -0.26
                                          
 Mexico IPC                     44609.65              -0.53
                                          
 Chile SPIPSA                    4937.27              -0.43
                                          
 Argentina MerVal               40982.47             -2.464
                                          
 Colombia Colcap                 1651.55              -0.02
                                          
                                                           
        Currencies              Latest     Daily % change
 Brazil real                      4.1421              -0.05
                                          
 Mexico peso                     18.8060              -0.07
                                          
 Chile peso                        771.8               0.44
                                          
 Colombia peso                   3281.03              -0.44
 Peru sol                         3.3278               0.13
                                          
 Argentina peso (interbank)      60.0400              -0.12
                                          
 
 (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani and Ambar Warrick in
Bengaluru; editing by Nick Macfie)
  
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