rise@ (Recasts headline and lead with Mexican peso rising; updates prices) SAO PAULO, July 13 (Reuters) - Mexico's peso currency firmed on Thursday after the central bank governor said interest rate hikes could be paused for some time, but he knocked down market speculation that there would be rate cuts before mid-2018. Banco de Mexico Governor Agustin Carstens said in an interview with Reuters that talk among private economists that rates would be reduced early next year diverged from the bank's view, which was that it would take some time to consolidate inflation toward the bank's 3 percent target. The Mexican peso firmed 0.52 percent on Thursday, its sixth straight daily gain, and appreciated after Carsten's comments were published. In Brazil, shares rose as JBS SA, the world's largest meatpacker, stock jumped 9.4 percent after the company got permission from an appeals court to sell assets.
The ruling "sends a positive signal related to the company's divestment plan," analysts at UBS Securities wrote in a note to clients, referring to JBS's 6 billion reais ($1.9 billion) asset-sale program. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 0.5 percent, but the Brazilian real was nearly flat on investor caution over the political environment. A congressional committee was set to vote on Thursday on corruption charges against President Michel Temer after its rapporteur recommended the body vote to put him on trial. Some traders fear that could delay the implementation of his agenda of structural reforms, which includes revamps of the country's pension system and labor laws. Most other Latin American currencies strengthened after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's dovish tone in testimony to a Senate panel supported expectations of a slow pace of rate hikes in coming months. In Chile, the central bank kept the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.5 percent at its monthly meeting on Thursday, as widely expected, and said it maintained a neutral bias.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2200 GMT:
Stock indexes Latest daily % YTD %
MSCI Emerging Markets 1040.72 1.05 20.7 MSCI LatAm 2687.50 0.98 14.82 Brazil Bovespa 65178.35 0.53 8.22 Mexico IPC 50968.76 0.31 11.67 Chile IPSA 4986.41 0.59 20.11 Chile IGPA 24879.35 0.59 19.99 Argentina MerVal 21976.37 -1.13 29.90 Colombia IGBC 11113.00 -0.08 9.72 Venezuela IBC 128100.21 2.88 304.04 Currencies Latest daily % YTD %
Brazil real 3.2075 -0.12 1.28 Mexico peso 17.680 0.52 17.33 Chile peso 660.6 0.36 1.53 Colombia peso 3045.80 0.03 -1.36 Peru sol 3.243 0.25 3.37 Argentina peso (interbank) 16.9475 0.01 -6.33 Argentina peso (parallel) 17.55 -0.57 -4.16
(Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)