Mexico faces risks to growth, credit rating from energy bill -JP Morgan



Jan 21 (Reuters) - Mexico faces risks to economic growth and potential for a credit rating downgrade in the medium term from political developments including the likely passage of a controversial energy bill, JP Morgan said in a report.

According to the bank, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's plan to tighten state control of the electricity market could trigger sovereign debt rating downgrades from Moody's and Standard & Poor's. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm raised concerns about the risks to investors from the energy market initiative during talks with Mexican officials this week.

The JP Morgan report, dated Thursday, stressed that the energy bill was likely to pass at some point this year, even if in watered-down form. The opposition PRI party could support the legislation, potentially fragmenting the opposition to Lopez Obrador.

The bill's approval could enable Lopez Obrador to increase the strength of the presidency and undercut the roles of independent institutions and regulators, JP Morgan economist Gabriel Lozano wrote in the report.

In addition to the bill's passage, Lopez Obrador is likely to get a boost from gubernatorial victories for his Morena party as well as his own expected win in a recall referendum scheduled for April 10, Lozano said.

Against this backdrop, he expects the Mexico Central Bank to boost interest rates to 7.25% this year and to 8% in 2023 from the current 5.5% level.

“If there are some doubts on whether Banxico (Mexico Central Bank) should follow the Fed throughout 2023 or not, this year’s political events will probably dictate the extent of the coupling, ” the bank said.
Reporting by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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