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EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil's real rises ahead of meeting; Chilean peso jumps

Shreyashi Sanyal
·3 min read

* Copom to keep Selic rate at record low of 2.0% * Brazil's real leads gains among Latam peers * Chilean peso rises amid higher copper prices (Updates prices throughout, adds background) By Shreyashi Sanyal Jan 20 (Reuters) - The Brazilian real traded higher on Wednesday as investors awaited a statement from the central bank on the direction of monetary policy, while Chile's peso tracked its best day in nearly eight months. The central bank's rate-setting committee - Copom - is expected to keep the Selic rate at 2.0%, a record low, first set in August as the initial COVID-19 wave wreaked havoc on Brazil's already weak economy. The statement will be released at 2100 GMT. According to a Reuters poll, Copom will emphasize the need for policy normalization in response to quickly developing inflation pressures. Brazil's real strengthened 0.6% against the dollar as bets grew for the central bank's policy guidance to needle decidedly in a hawkish direction. Melanie Fischinger, FX and emerging markets analyst at Commerzbank, said she expects the normalization of interest rates to be implemented earlier than so far assumed, most likely at the end of the second quarter. "The other important factor is fiscal policy...Any comments of this nature in today's statement will attract particular attention, and an imminent start of rate hikes would certainly support the real." Risk assets across the globe gained on hopes of a bumper U.S. fiscal package as Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States. The Chilean peso jumped 2.06%, set for its best day since June 2020, as prices of its main export, copper, pushed higher on optimism over U.S. stimulus. The country has a busy political calendar this year, starting with the drafting of an entirely new constitution, comprised of 155 members elected by the public in April after months of protests rocked the country in 2019. Meanwhile, Chile's health regulator on Wednesday approved the emergency roll-out of the CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Mexico's peso added 0.2%, while the Colombian peso was 0.7% higher as oil prices rose. The MSCI's index of emerging market stocks rose 1.5% to a record high and with global interest rates still at record lows, and with more stimulus on the way, the prospects for emerging market risk assets remain bright. Among other parts of Latin America, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it had approved a $2.7 billion line of credit for Panama to address the coronavirus pandemic. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1907 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1401.73 1.48 MSCI LatAm 2459.57 -0.66 Brazil Bovespa 119725.00 -0.76 Mexico IPC 45139.76 -0.78 Chile IPSA 4637.77 -0.68 Argentina MerVal 49960.17 -1.101 Colombia COLCAP 1458.56 -0.06 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 5.3173 0.53 Mexico peso 19.6166 0.17 Chile peso 721.9 1.98 Colombia peso 3464.88 0.71 Peru sol 3.6147 -0.03 Argentina peso (interbank) 86.3400 -0.15 Argentina peso (parallel) 152 3.29 (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru Editing by Bernadette Baum/Mark Heinrich)