Recession Fears Knock Down Markets in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina

Bovespa worker In Brazil and Latin America markets plunged on Wednesday, October 22, on fears of consequences from Argentina's plan to nationalize retirement funds spread to the region increasing risks of an already highly volatile global situation.

Argentina's Merval ended 10.1% down after having reached lows of 17%. The index has lost 20% since Tuesday when Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the nationalization of US$ 30 billion in private retirement funds.

The bill still must be considered by Congress but the ruling majority has a comfortable majority.

Argentina's country risk according to EMBI+ from JP Morgan climbed to almost 2.000 points the highest since 2001, previous to the massive default.

Retirement funds managed by local banks represent an important share of the Argentine financial system and the stock exchange.

In Brazil the Bovespa index lost 10.2% with operations automatically suspended when the drop was higher than 10%. Growing fears of a global recession and the poor showing of US and European markets influenced Bovespa.

The index level is now 35.069, the lowest since September 2006. The Brazilian currency real, further depreciated to 2.4 to the US dollar from Tuesday's closing at 2.2 Real.

Mexico IPC plunged 7.01%, the steepest drop since April 2000. Meanwhile the Mexican peso soared closer to 14 to the US dollar, ending operations at 13.85, which is 50 cents higher than on Tuesday.

The Mexican peso last August reached its highest appreciation since 1998, at 9.88 to the US dollar. But since the global crisis it fell to 14 Pesos last October 10 and since then has been hovering in the range between 13 and 14 pesos. The Mexican central bank has daily sales of 400 million US dollars.

Foreign investors are already leaving emerging markets for safer assets and Argentina's decision has only helped to confirm the tendency.

In Chile the IPSA index dropped 5.9% and the IGPA, 4.49%, while copper the country's main export slid to 1.90 US dollars. So far this year the Chilean stock market has lost 22%. The Chilean peso also lost ground against the US dollar.

In a report released Wednesday the IMF said Latinamerica was suffering the confluence of the global credit crunch plus weaker demand and lower prices for commodities.

Although in a better situation that in previous crisis, IMF lowered growth estimates for next year to 3%.

Mercopress

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