EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil stocks slammed after Petrobras CEO axed

·3 min read

* Brazil consumer prices hit 6-year high in mid-May * Mexico inflation eases slightly in early May, still above target * Chile's benchmark interest rate seen rising to 9% by June - poll * Brazil's Petrobras warned of diesel shortages before CEO ouster (Adds comments, updates prices throughout) By Bansari Mayur Kamdar May 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's benchmark index led declines on Tuesday as shares of state-run oil company Petrobras tumbled on the ouster of its chief executive over fuel pricing, while currencies declined amid broader selloff in global markets as risk sentiment soured. The Bovespa index pared falls by midday, last down 0.8%, dragged lower by a 3.9% drop in Petrobras, after the government made clear its aim to change a fuel pricing policy after the ouster of the company's chief executive for the second time in two months. Adding to concerns, data showed consumer prices in Brazil rose more than expected in the month to mid-May marking the sharpest jump for the period in six years as the South American country grapples with galloping inflation. The MSCI's index of Latam currencies declined 0.4%, with the Brazilian real reversing early gains to fall 0.2%. "We are reaching close to the limit of where we can see interest rates moving in the likes of Brazil, but, of course the higher inflation numbers today in Brazil do pose a risk that we'll see the Selic (rate) rise above previous expectations," said Christian Lawrence, senior market strategist at Rabobank. The Mexican peso edged lower against the dollar after data showed consumer prices fell 0.06% during the first half of May. Colombia's peso inched up 0.2% as a recovery in crude prices supported the oil producing country's currency. Markets focused on a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell scheduled later in the day, with investors looking for any fresh comments about the path of future U.S. interest rate hikes. "In emerging markets, an ongoing tightening of financial conditions, concerns over growth, and high volatility remain strong headwinds," analysts at J.P.Morgan wrote in a client note. The Chilean peso fell 0.5%, tracking lower copper prices on fears of slowing global economic growth. The Andean country is expected to hike its benchmark interest rate to 9% in June, a central bank poll of traders suggested, as it battles with high inflation. Argentine peso bills, devalued by years of inflation now soaring near 60%, are starting to cause a literal strain on wallets - with the largest banknote in circulation worth under $5 in commonly used exchange markets. The peso fell 0.1% against dollar. Elsewhere, the Central Bank of Nigeria unexpectedly raised its benchmark interest rate to 13% from 11.5%. Russian rouble strengthened in onshore trading to levels not seen since March 2018 against the dollar, boosted by export-focused companies selling foreign currency to pay taxes. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1856 GMT: Stock Latest Daily % indexes change MSCI Emerging Markets 1016.97 -1.7 MSCI LatAm 2380.68 -2.23 Brazil Bovespa 109551.78 -0.72 Mexico IPC 51119.42 -0.5 Chile IPSA 5150.17 0.45 Argentina MerVal 90561.50 0.241 Colombia COLCAP 1474.80 -0.54 Currencies Latest Daily % change Brazil real 4.8145 -0.20 Mexico peso 19.8600 -0.04 Chile peso 831.9 -0.44 Colombia peso 3970.33 0.07 Peru sol 3.7 0.46 Argentina peso (interbank) 119.1000 -0.13 Argentina peso (parallel) 205 0.73 (Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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