By Ambar Warrick and Susan Mathew
Oct 19 (Reuters) – Brazil’s real hit six-month lows and stocks slumped 3.4% on Tuesday as government plans for more welfare raised concerns of stretched fiscal spending, while most other Latin American currencies recouped some recent losses as the dollar retreated.
The real BRBY, BRL= tumbled up to 1.7% to 5.6049 to the dollar, before the central bank’s first intervention in the spot currency market since March, helped the currency pull slightly away from lows last hit in April.
The stumble followed the speaker of the lower house of Congress signalling he might be open to discussing the introduction of a welfare program, which could break the country’s spending ceiling. The moves come ahead of elections next year.
A higher budget deficit and more debt issuance are likely to damage Brazil’s financial credibility. Rising inflation is also expected to erode growth in Latin America’s largest economy.
“The real should continue underperforming – the higher fiscal uncertainty is likely to overpower the impact of the (central bank’s) FX interventions,” strategists at Citi said.
Brazilian stocks .BVSP looked to mark their worst session in six weeks, with Petrobras PETR4.SA, PETR3.SA sliding around 4% after the oil firm confirmed it will not be able to meet “atypical demand” from fuel distributors in November that has surpassed its production capacity, raising fears of supply shortages in the country.
Meanwhile, a 16% surge in its trading debut for Brazilian payment’s company Getnet Brasil GTT4.SA, owned by Spanish bank Santander SAN.MC, helped cap losses for the main Bovespa index.
Other Latam currencies fared better, recovering from recent losses made on concerns over slowing Chinese economic growth. FRX/
Mexico’s peso MXN= rose 0.8% and hit three-week highs, while Colombia’s peso COP= inched up as it resumed trade after a holiday. But most emerging market currencies have tumbled in recent sessions, as investors grew increasingly concerned over rising inflation.
Chile’s peso CLP= rose 0.7%, tracking strength in copper prices as supply disruptions Peru, a major producer, drove up rates for the red metal. MET/L
Peru’s sol PEN= fell slightly after a community said it will block a key mining road used by the Las Bambas copper mine in protest after failed negotiations with the government.
In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele said airline Volaris will accept bitcoin in the country. The cryptocurrency was adopted as legal tender in El Salvador last month. Bitcoin BTC=BTSP hit six-month highs on Tuesday to $63,528 per dollar.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies:
Daily % change
MSCI Emerging Markets .MSCIEF
MSCI LatAm .MILA00000PUS
Brazil Bovespa .BVSP
Mexico IPC .MXX
Chile IPSA .SPIPSA