April 16, 2018 / 3:55 PM / a year ago

EMERGING MARKETS-LatAm markets seesaw on Syria, U.S. economic data

    By Bruno Federowski
    BRASILIA, April 16 (Reuters) - Most Latin American market
seesawed on Monday on hopes that a U.S.-led strike on Syria
would not escalate, while signs of accelerating U.S. growth that
could lead to higher interest rates kept a lid on gains.
    The U.S., Britain and France said their bombing was aimed at
three chemical weapons facilities in retaliation for a suspected
poison gas attack in Douma by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's
    For now, the three Western nations signaled there will be no
more strikes.
    "Military action in Syria seems to be, so far, just a
one-off, targeted attack," paving the way for a technical
correction, a portfolio manager at a Brazilian brokerage said.
    The U.S. dollar, often a safe-haven in times of heightened
uncertainty, fell broadly against a basket of developed-market
    Yet emerging-market currencies were pressured by a rebound
in U.S. store sales in March, which suggested some U.S. growth
momentum. Currencies from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and
Peru were mostly range-bound, with the Colombian peso
falling as much as 0.4 percent in the wake of falling crude
    Traders worldwide have been anxiously looking for signals
about the pace of U.S. rate hikes, since a faster pace of
tightening could drive capital away from high-yielding assets,
towards the United States.
    Stock markets in the region were mostly lower, with Brazil's
benchmark Bovespa stock index leading losses as
volatility spiked ahead of the expiration of index option
    Brazilian markets have been particularly vulnerable in
recent days after the arrest of former President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva, who had been leading polls, upped the stakes for
this year's presidential elections.
    Over the weekend, a survey showed voters are abandoning Lula
as his chances of running in October fade, but they are not
transferring their support en masse to other leftist candidates.

    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1520 GMT:
 Stock indexes                            daily %   YTD %
                                           change  change
 MSCI Emerging Markets          1163.71     -0.55       1
 MSCI LatAm                     2998.55     -0.93    7.02
 Brazil Bovespa                83374.66     -1.14    9.13
 Mexico IPC                    48808.36      0.08   -1.11
 Chile IPSA                     5618.39     -0.22    0.97
 Chile IGPA                    28117.85     -0.17    0.49
 Argentina MerVal              31347.26     -0.78    4.26
 Colombia IGBC                 12010.36     -0.59    5.63
 Currencies                               daily %   YTD %
                                           change  change
 Brazil real                     3.4323     -0.20   -3.47
 Mexico peso                    18.0380      0.07    9.21
 Chile peso                       596.5     -0.35    3.04
 Colombia peso                  2723.15     -0.44    9.51
 Peru sol                         3.222      0.09    0.47
 Argentina peso (interbank)     20.2100      0.05   -7.97
 Argentina peso (parallel)        20.44      0.15   -5.92
 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski
Editing by Susan Thomas)
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