July 2, 2012 / 1:18 PM / 5 years ago

Mexico peso little changed after presidential vote

MEXICO CITY, July 2 (Reuters) - Mexico’s peso was little changed on Monday after presidential front runner Enrique Pena Nieto, who campaigned on reforms including opening up the state run oil company Pemex, claimed victory.

Opinion polls had for months consistently put Pena Nieto as the front-runner, and the peso on Monday edged up a negligible 0.05 percent to 13.3574 pesos poer dollars.

With more than 80 percent of the votes counted from Sunday’s elections, the country’s federal election institute put Pena Nieto of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party in the lead, winning 37 percent of the country’s votes. Leftist candidate Andres Lopez Obrador gained 32 percent of the votes and ruling party candidate Josefina Vasquez Mota trailed with 25 percent.

“There’s some positivity that Mr. Pena Nieto has won and he has campaigned on the basis of reforms but the early signs are that optimism might not last,” said David Rees, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.

Pena Nieto is ahead by a narrower margin than early polls suggested, with many polls predicting he would win by at least a 10 percentage point. And though market players bet he will become president, some worry Pena Nieto’s party will fail to secure a clear majority in Congress limiting his ability to carry out reforms.

“The concern is that (the opposition party) will effectively retaliate for the next six years if the PRI hasn’t got the majority in Congress this time around,” Rees added.

Pena Nieto aims to lift growth to 6 percent a year by making labor markets more flexible, boosting tax revenues and allowing more private companies to enter the oil industry.

It is still unclear whether his party, which ruled the country for seven decades until 2000, can capture the majority of seats in Congress.

The Mexican peso, Latin America’s most widely traded currency, tends to be sensitive to the markets’ appetite for risk and was further pressured after fiscally strong Finland and the Netherlands cast doubt on a plan for the euro zone’s permanent bailout fund to buy government bonds in the secondary market.

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