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Argentina in red again, lagging steady Latam markets

By Sruthi Shankar Aug 20 (Reuters) – Most Latin American currencies edged higher on Tuesday as investors speculated the path of U.S. interest rates amid growing signs that policymakers are willing to do more to stimulate their slowing economies. Bucking the trend, Argentina’s peso shed over 1% even as the new Treasury Minister Hernan Lacunza sought to calm investors by saying the country will stand by the 2019 fiscal targets agreed with the International Monetary Fund, and work to stabilize its currency. After a tumultuous week marked by worries about escalation in U.S.-China trade tension, recession worries and a slump in Argentina’s assets, financial markets steadied as major economies including China and Germany unveiled plans to support growth. With the U.S. dollar slipping, the Brazilian real and the Mexican peso rose about 0.6% as investors focused on minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s July meeting and the central bankers’ meeting at Jackson Hole later this week, where Fed chief Jerome Powell is set to speak. “High expectations for monetary easing persist for upcoming Fed and ECB meetings,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note. “Fed’s Powell may have to wait for weaker global demand for U.S. exports and trade uncertainty to spill over into the domestic consumer sector before turning decisively dovish.” Argentine investors returned from a holiday to continue selling the battered currency after former Treasury Minister Nicolas Dujovne resigned over the weekend following a downgrade on the country’s sovereign debt by rating agencies Fitch and S&P. “Potentially, this new guy will be in office for only three months, so I don’t think he’ll be able to do much. I don’t see his appointment as having much impact on the election,” said Edward Glossop, Latin America economist at Capital Economics. “It’s a job where he has his hands tied by the IMF framework as Argentina has fiscal goals it needs to reach and Lacunza doesn’t have much discretion to loosen monetary policy.” Keeping investors on edge, Argentine central bank chief Guido Sandleris said the country could face a fresh rise in inflation due to the recent free-fall in the peso, which has shed about 18% since a shock defeat for business-friendly President Mauricio Macri in Aug. 11 primaries. Argentina’s main stock index fell more than 8%, while Brazil’s Bovepsa and Mexico’s IPC edged slightly lower. Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1430 GMT: Stock indexes daily % Latest change MSCI Emerging Markets 980.45 0.28 MSCI LatAm 2581.70 0.06 Brazil Bovespa 99325.00 -0.14 Mexico IPC 39701.51 0.37 Chile IPSA 4779.92 -0.15 Argentina MerVal 27905.53 -8.23 Colombia IGBC 12559.08 0.25 Currencies daily % change Latest Brazil real 4.0404 0.65 Mexico peso 19.7436 0.56 Chile peso 709.7 0.51 Colombia peso 3413.16 0.59 Peru sol 3.381 0.15 Argentina peso 55.5700 -1.03 (interbank) (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Tom Arnold in London Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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