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* Trump to restore tariffs on metal imports from Brazil, Argentina * Latam FX gain as dollar drops after weak U.S. manufacturing data * Brazil stocks rise after strong manufacturing data * Chilean peso firms as central bank intervention kicks in By Susan Mathew Dec 2 (Reuters) - A dollar weakened by poor U.S. economic data helped Latin American currencies brush off the re-imposition of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina on Monday. Brazil's real firmed 0.4% with a spot auction by the central bank supporting the currency, while the Argentine and Mexican pesos were flat against a dollar that slid on weak U.S. manufacturing data. Surprising officials in the two South American countries, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he would restore tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports, accusing them of devaluing their currencies to the detriment of U.S. farmers.
Adding to overall optimism, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said U.S. and Chinese trade officials were "close to finalizing" some parts of an agreement.
With the dollar on the backfoot, the Mexican peso jumped 1% to touch a three-week high on Friday, while currencies of Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Argentina rose between 0.43% and 0.86%.
World stocks will keep rising over the coming year, according to the latest Reuters polls of strategists, but wild gyrations are likely in the lift from expected central bank policy easing and drag from developments in the U.S.-China trade war. Fears of a global economic slowdown as the world's largest economies become more deeply locked in a tit-for-tat trade tariff war unnerved world stocks last year, with all the indexes polled by Reuters, barring India and Brazil, in the red in 2018. While stocks have recovered globally so far this year, the latest polls of nearly 300 equity strategists showed nine of the 17 indexes polled on would not recoup last year's heavy losses by end-2019.
It’s been more than a month since U.S. equities lagged behind their global peers on consecutive days. Perhaps it’s just a reflection of investors deciding it’s a good time to cull some gains with U.S. stocks among the best performers this year, especially on a currency-adjusted basis. The escalating trade war between the U.S. and China has taken a turn for the worse, and nobody is really sure how much damage it will do to profits.
Brazil's benchmark stock index reached an all-time high earlier this month and is up 8.6 percent for the year. Investors in Brazil and across the world are betting that President Jair Bolsonaro will push through key changes to the social security system in Latin America's largest economy. The stakes are high for pension reform in Brazil because an improvement could boost the country's flagging economy and give it some stability.
Clearly, investors were overjoyed with the prospect that the Fed had their backs. The concern here is that the Fed’s moves will only serve to suppress market rates, putting further pressure on the already razor-thin difference between the short-term rates banks pay on their own borrowings and the long-term rates they charge lenders. In the banking business, this is known as the net interest margin.
Not only that, stocks are on track for their best quarter since soaring 15 percent in the July through September period of 2009. “The pain trade for stocks is still up,” Michael Hartnett, the chief investment strategist at Bank of America, wrote in research note Tuesday. The firm’s closely monitored monthly investor survey found that allocations are just a net 3 percent “overweight” to global equities, the lowest level since September 2016.
Indexes that measure the cost to protect both investment- and speculative-grade U.S. corporate bonds from default fell to their lowest levels since October, a sign of optimism about borrowers’ ability to pay their debts. The credit-focused investment firm announced that it was selling a 62 percent stake to Brookfield Asset Management in a deal worth about $4.7 billion. Well, for one, Oaktree’s chairman and co-founder is the legendary Howard Marks, who built his fortune as a vulture investor in distressed debt.
Breakeven rates on two-year Treasuries — a measure of what bond traders expect the rate of inflation to be over the life of the securities — has risen to the highest since May. In addition, the difference in yield between bonds due in 10 years and longer-term debt due in 30 years – a part of the curve that’s less influenced by Fed policy – is the widest since 2017. To be sure, no one is calling for runaway inflation. At 1.90 percent, the two-year breakeven rate is below the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.