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Markets

Latam FX, stocks down; Argentine stocks surge ahead of primary vote

Most Latin American currencies were set to end a tumultuous week on a soft note on Friday as worries about the US-Ch

09 Aug 2019

Most Latin American currencies were set to end a tumultuous week on a soft note on Friday as worries about the US-China trade dispute and global growth kept investors on edge.

The Brazilian real fell about 0.5%, giving back some of Thursday's gains of more than 1% when upbeat trade data from China and a stabilizing yuan lifted risk appetite.

The mood was glum again on Friday after US President Donald Trump said that he was not ready to make a trade deal with China and had decided that the United States would not do business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies for the time being.

"At this point in time, it's hard to see either the US or China having enough will to resolve their differences, much less before the new US tariffs on Chinese goods kick in on September 1," said Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM.

"Should the barriers to global trade be raised next month, that would be another kick in the gut for risk appetite and may prompt another sell-off in risk assets."

MSCI's index of emerging market stocks as well as currencies were set to post a third straight week of losses.

Argentina's main stock index shot up 7% as investors adjusted investment portfolios ahead of the country's primary election on Sunday, which will determine President Mauricio Macri's chances of winning a second term in October.

The country's embattled peso, which has shed over 8% in the past month, is expected to take another beating next week if the business-friendly Macri fares worse than expected.

Sao Paulo-listed shares erased early gains as miner Vale fell 3.2 % due to a plunge in iron ore prices.

However, a 5.8% jump in shares of food processor BRF SA on swinging back to quarterly profit, and a near 33% surge in healthcare insurer Qualicorp SA after private hospital group Rede D'Or Sao Luiz agreed to buy a 10% stake in the company, boosted the main index.

After Brazil's pension reform bill was passed in the lower house of Congress on Wednesday, investors are awaiting a vote in the Senate, which is expected to consider extending the reform to states and municipal governments.

"We expect the pension reform discussion to conclude before October this year, and we don't expect much watering down in the proposal either," said Wilson Ferrarezi, an economist at TS Lombard.

From a markets points of view the reform has cleared its major hurdle when it was approved by the Lower House, he said. But volatility might still remain high as the focus will likely shift to other reforms such as the passage of the tax reform, which he expects to be long drawn out.

The Mexican peso and stocks held largely steady after data showed industrial output rose 1.1% in June, rebounding from a contraction in the previous month.

Copyright Reuters, 2019