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Markets

Latam currencies edge higher with focus on US stimulus plan

  • Brazil's real leads gains among Latam FX.
  • Mexican peso eyes first weekly gain this year.
  • Goldman Sachs ups MSCI EM equity index target.
  • Brazil to start COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 21 –senator.
14 Jan 2021

Latin American currencies edged higher on Thursday, with investors focusing on US President-elect Joe Biden's fiscal stimulus plan as hopes grew for a bigger package.

Global markets shrugged off US President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial and chose instead to look at Biden's stimulus proposal which could exceed $1.5 trillion.

"Investors are eagerly waiting for President-elect Joe Biden to provide further details on his planned economic stimulus package," said Milan Cutkovic, market analyst at Axi.

"The prospect of another multi-trillion aid bill and the Biden administration's promise to take quick action has kept investor sentiment upbeat."

Brazil's real rose 0.6% against the dollar, the most among Latin American currencies as investors kept close watch on the country's public finances.

Also on the radar for Brazil is a slower-than-expected rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. A Brazilian senator said an inoculation campaign could begin as soon as Jan. 21 but declined to give an official start date.

The Mexican peso advanced 0.2%, eyeing its first weekly gain of the year as improving economic data points helped support views that the country was slowly emerging from the throes of the pandemic.

According to market analysts, capital outflows in Mexico hit record levels in 2020 but a turnaround could be in store this year due to diminishing risk perception, attractive returns and relatively high interest rates.

The Chilean and Colombian currencies were flat, while the Argentine peso dipped.

Chile's central bank had announced on Wednesday a plan to purchase $12 billion over the next 15 months to replenish and expand the country's foreign currency reserves.

"We would not be surprised if the central bank halts USD purchases, if the Chilean peso weakens substantially," noted strategists at Credit Suisse.

Latin American stocks added 0.5%, while the MSCI's index for emerging market equities rose to a fresh record high.

Goldman Sachs raised its target on MSCI's emerging market equity index to 1450 from 1375, citing better earnings per share in the past two months.

The forecast sees an 8% upside from current levels, though Goldman Sachs predicted in a note to clients a greater upside in emerging markets ex-Asia including gains of between 10%-20% in US-dollar terms across Mexico, Poland, and Brazil.