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EMERGING MARKETS-S. African rand scales 1-year high after budget; Brazil’s real jumps 1%

PUBLISHED: Wed, 24 Feb 2021 14:01:12 GMT

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* S.African budget deficit revised down * Brazil’s real up 1%; inflation data raises rate hike case * Eletrobras jumps 6% after privatization plan unveiled * Ecopetrol posts 87.3% drop in annual profit By Susan Mathew Feb 24 (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand jumped 1% on Wednesday after the government lowered its annual budget deficit forecast, while most other emerging market currencies rallied against a weaker dollar, putting a key index on course for its best session in two weeks. The rand, which was trading flat against the greenback ahead of the presentation of the budget, shot up to its highest level since January last year after South Africa’s Treasury said the deficit had been revised down to 14% of gross domestic product in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, from a previous forecast of 15.7%, and is expected to weigh less on the country’s GDP going forward. “Hitting all the right notes and more. This should be positive ZAR and markets – better than consensus deficit trajectory thanks to an increase in tax collections,” said Deutsche Bank economist Danelee Masia. MSCI’s index of EM currencies rose 0.1% , with Russia’s rouble rising more than 1%, thanks to rising oil prices and limited sanctions from the European Union over the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Turkey’s lira, however, hit three-week lows, extending losses to a fifth session, after a 20% jump since November. The Turkish government’s defense of former Finance Minster Berat Albayrak, under whom the lira depreciated sharply and foreign exchange reserves declined, and speculation of his return to the cabinet have weighed on the currency in recent days. In Latin America, Brazil’s real rose 1% as consumer confidence data showed a rise for the first time in five months, and the current account deficit in the year to January as a share of GDP shrank to its smallest in 13 years. But separate data showed inflation jumped further away from the central bank’s target. “This shifts the balance a bit further (for) an interest rate hike at the next Copom meeting in March,” said Nikhil Sanghani, a Latam economist at Capital Economics, referring to the Brazilian central bank’s policy committee. Rising crude prices lifted the Mexican peso 0.5%, while Colombia’s currency rose for the first time in five sessions. Chile’s peso scaled a seven-week high as copper prices stayed at over nine-year highs. Among stocks, Brazil’s Bovespa index rose 0.1% as shares of state-controlled oil firm Petrobras continued to recover, gaining 1.5%. They plunged 22% on Monday after Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro ousted the company’s chief executive, sparking wider fears of intervention by the government in other sectors. Shares of Eletrobras jumped 6% after Bolsonaro delivered a privatization plan for the power utility to Congress overnight. Colombia’s Ecopetrol slipped 0.7% in very thin U.S. pre-market trading after the company reported a 87.3% drop in 2020 net profit. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies: Stock indexes Latest Daily % change MSCI Emerging Markets 1381.26 -1.21 MSCI LatAm 2357.98 0.68 Brazil Bovespa 115367.20 0.12 Mexico IPC – – Chile IPSA 4564.32 1.67 Argentina MerVal – – Colombia COLCAP – – Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 5.4243 0.34 Mexico peso 20.4180 0.40 Chile peso 701.2 0.39 Colombia peso 3578.9 0.37 Peru sol 3.6448 0.19 Argentina peso 89.6200 -0.09 (interbank) (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru and Tom Arnold in London Editing by Paul Simao)

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