In the News

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX come off multi-year highs as dollar firms

BENGALURU, FEB 2 (Reuters) - Currencies in Latin America came off session highs on Thursday but held on to some gains, with the Brazilian real up after its central bank said overnight it was considering holding interest rates at a six-year high for longer than market expectations.

  • EM governments sell record $44 bln of bonds in Jan
  • Brazil eyes high rates for longer
  • Latam currencies up 0.6%, stocks down 1.2%

MSCI’s Latin American currencies index was up 0.6% by 1934 GMT, coming off its highest level since April 2018 touched earlier in the session as the dollar gained ground while the euro and the sterling dipped.

The dollar index had fallen to a nine-month low on Wednesday after investors took dovish cues from remarks by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell while hawkish commentary from the European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday failed to quell investor optimism about the global rate hiking cycle being close to an end.

“A return to monetary policy normalization seems to be the consensus from most central banks and while that means the Fed won’t get in the way of borrowing anymore, other currencies boosted by their respective central bank’s hawkishness are naturally fading with the change of heart towards more of an accommodative environment,” said Juan Perez, director of trading at Monex USA.

“We think Latam can start sliding as quick as it climbed in January based on the lack of steady outlooks and turmoil when it comes to political stability.”

The real also came off session highs but was still up 0.5%. The currency of Latin America’s largest economy had hit its highest since June earlier in the session. “It’s a reaction to the Fed slowing the pace of tightening and the relatively hawkish central bank meeting in Brazil yesterday, in which the policymakers suggested that monetary policy will stay tight for a while yet,” said Kimberley Sperrfechter, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.

Brazil’s bank’s rate-setting committee left its Selic benchmark interest rate at 13.75% in Wednesday’s policy decision, as expected. Oil exporter Mexico’s peso fell 0.5% while Colombia’s peso was last up 0.3%. Chile’s peso added 0.8%, while the Peruvian sol gained 0.5% against the dollar.

A roaring start to the year for debt issuance has also helped lift sovereign emerging market bond sales to a record $44 billion peak in January with investors keen to deploy piles of cash. Elsewhere in emerging markets, the Czech National Bank (CNB) left interest rates unchanged at a more than two-decade high, as the economy tipped into a mild recession amid persistent double-digit inflation.

India’s Adani Group’s market losses swelled to more than $100 billion, sparking worries about their potential systemic impact. Latam stocks reversed early gains to fall 1.2%, bogged down by a drop in shares of Brazil and Mexico.


Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Marguerita Choy
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