EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks gain, Brazil up on pension reform hopes

 (Recasts throughout, updates prices, adds market strategist's
    By Aaron Saldanha
    May 8 (Reuters) - An index of Latin American stocks rose on
Wednesday, propped up by robust Brazilian shares gaining on
optimism around a pension reform proposal, while most Latin
American currencies firmed against a listless dollar.
    The latest round of U.S.-China trade talks start on
Thursday, the results of which will broadly set the tone for
Latin American markets. China is a key importer of a large chunk
of the region's resources exports.    
    MSCI's index of Latin American stocks rose
1.5%, with shares in index heavyweight Brazil gaining as Economy
Minister Paulo Guedes made the case for pension reform to
lawmakers at a special committee hearing in
    Angelo JR Amaral, an investment advisor at SVN, said Guedes'
testimony showed the government was working collectively and
that the cohesion indicated it was learning from mistakes made
    Investors view reform to Brazil's bloated pension system as
crucial to improving the fiscal position of Latin America's top
    Stocks on the Bovespa index climbed 1.3%, with gains
seen across most sectors.
    Oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) saw its common
shares and preferred shares rise 3.4% and
3.9%, respectively, despite missing analysts' profit estimates
in its first-quarter earnings. 
    Petrobras executives told analysts the state-run firm was on
course to hit its annual production target.    
    Gun maker Taurus' preferred shares surged 23.5%
after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro late on Tuesday signed
a decree easing access to guns and ammunition.
    Shares of Vale SA fell 1.4%, against a backdrop
of lower Dalian-traded iron ore futures. The miner said its iron
ore production and sales slumped in the first quarter from a
year earlier, reflecting the impact of a deadly dam collapse in
    Brazil's real surged 1.1%, fueled by the optimism
linked to the reform proposal.
    The central bank kept borrowing costs at 6.5% after markets
closed, as investors widely expected.   
    Argentina's stocks rose 3.2%, while the peso
    Mexican stocks slid 0.4%, ending lower for a twelfth
straight session in their worst losing streak in more than three
decades. The peso softened 0.3%.
    Chilean equities slipped 0.4% to close at their
lowest in over four months. Chilean consumer prices rose 0.3
percent in April, data showed.
    Colombia's peso firmed 0.2%, while local stocks
 tacked on 0.8%.
    Energy firm Ecopetrol SA ended 3% higher, aided by
firmer oil prices.
    Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2051 GMT
 Stock indexes                             daily
                                Latest    change
 MSCI Emerging Markets           1050.94   -0.58
 MSCI LatAm                      2702.46    1.45
 Brazil Bovespa                 95596.61    1.28
 Mexico IPC                     43410.74    -0.4
 Chile IPSA                      5060.47   -0.36
 Argentina MerVal               33775.97    3.16
 Colombia IGBC                  12529.76    0.77
 Currencies                                daily
 Brazil real                      3.9266    0.15
 Mexico peso                     19.0870   -0.29
 Chile peso                        684.2    0.09
 Colombia peso                   3291.43    0.22
 Peru sol                          3.316   -0.09
 Argentina peso (interbank)      45.0000    0.67

 (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru, Additional reporting
by Paula Arend Laier in Sao Paulo, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)