Mexican peso rises after rate hike, Latam FX afloat for the week
* Latam stocks, FX eke out gains this week
* Central banks in Mexico, Peru, Argentina hike interest rates
* Brazil antitrust regulator approves sale of Petrobras refinery
By Anisha Sircar
May 13 (Reuters) - A gauge for Latin American currencies rose on Friday as the dollar dipped, clawing back some gains in a volatile week marred by risk-off sentiment on global growth fears, while Mexico's peso strengthened after its central bank hiked interest rates.
Mexico's peso MXN= gained 0.7% against the dollar, bouncing off one-week lows after the Bank of Mexico on Thursday raised the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 7.0%, as expected.
Peru's sol PEN= slipped 0.3% even after its own central bank raised rates by 50 basis points to 5%, the tenth consecutive hike as the copper-producing Andean nation battles spiraling inflation.
Argentina's central bank, too, announced a hike in the benchmark interest rate by 200 basis points to 49% after data earlier in the day showed inflation in the 12 months through April was running at 58%.
"Inflation has risen to levels dangerous, and the only way in theory to combat that is raising rates, but central bank action isn't determining the value of foreign currency currently... We need global factors to come together for a more positive Latam outlook, as everything is so downwardly revised," said Juan Perez, director of trading at Monex USA.
MSCI's index of Latam currencies .MILA00000CUS edged 0.1% higher for the week, as it managed to keep its head above water after the greenback saw a boost in late April on U.S. rate hike expectations. Chile's peso CLP= and Colombia's peso COP= hovered near pandemic lows.
"We're back to the levels of market fear and chaos as in the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 - 2022 is another moment of shock," Perez added, citing risks around China, rising U.S. interest rates, slowing growth and the war in Ukraine.
Latin American stocks .MILA00000PUS were headed for a 0.1% weekly gain by midday trading after a week which saw investors moving away from riskier assets amid broader recessionary fears, and were tracking their sixth straight week in the red.
Headlines pointing to smoother commercial trade, new trade patterns with Latin American countries or a resolution in the Russia-Ukraine war could lift stocks in the weeks to come, analysts say.
Brazil's real BRL= , Chile's peso CLP= and Colombia's peso COP= were set for their fourth straight weeks in the red, skidding between 0.1% and 1.2% on the week.
Petrobras PETR4.SA shares jumped 1.7%, boosting Brazil's benchmark Bovespa .BVSP . Brazil's antitrust watchdog CADE said the sale of the state-run oil company's Reman refinery to fuel distributor Atem was approved with no restrictions.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2014 GMT:
Latest Daily %
change MSCI Emerging Markets .MSCIEF
1.79 MSCI LatAm .MILA00000PUS
2.16 Brazil Bovespa
1.39 Mexico IPC
0.46 Chile IPSA
2.88 Argentina MerVal
3.615 Colombia COLCAP
Latest Daily %
change Brazil real
-0.02 Mexico peso
0.65 Chile peso
0.50 Colombia peso COP=
-0.01 Peru sol
-0.74 Argentina peso (interbank) ARS=RASL
Argentina peso (parallel) ARSB=
Reporting by Anisha Sircar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru Editing by Alistair Bell
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