SAO PAULO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies strengthened on Friday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen refrained from commenting on monetary policy in a speech, easing concerns of investors who had braced for a hawkish signal. At a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Yellen said regulations put in place after the 2007-2009 financial crisis had strengthened the financial system without impeding economic growth, and any future changes should remain modest.
"Maybe Yellen didn't comment on the economy because she's not very confident on the outlook," a New York-based portfolio manager said. A batch of mixed U.S. economic figures have cast a shadow on the nation's economic recovery, driving some investors to dial back bets on an interest rate increase this year. A slower path of U.S. rate hikes could drive up demand for high-yielding assets, benefiting currencies from emerging-market economies. Currencies in Latin American strengthened between 0.1 percent and 1.2 percent, tracking a global decline in the U.S. dollar. Stock markets, however, were mixed, following a recent stretch of gains. Mexico's S&P/BVM IPC index was nearly flat, while Brazil's benchmark index slipped 0.2 percent. Shares of meatpacker JBS SA jumped after an anti-corruption division within the Brazilian prosecutor general's office on Thursday approved a leniency deal with its controlling shareholder, J&F Investimentos SA. Also fostering appetite for JBS shares was a Reuters report that state development bank BNDES is doing all it can to remove Chief Executive Officer Wesley Batista, who is at the center of a corruption scandal, from the company.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1520 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD % change change
MSCI Emerging Markets 1086.99 0.42 25.53 MSCI LatAm 2890.79 0.04 23.46 Brazil Bovespa 70965.25 -0.24 17.83 Mexico S&P/BVM IPC 51467.08 -0.01 12.76 Chile IPSA 5169.41 0.32 24.52 Chile IGPA 25808.53 0.32 24.47 Argentina MerVal 23513.82 0.52 38.99 Colombia IGBC 10899.23 -0.26 7.61 Venezuela IBC 201173.22 0.71 534.51 Currencies daily % YTD % change change
Brazil real 3.1430 0.10 3.38 Mexico peso 17.6300 0.55 17.66 Chile peso 636.12 0.23 5.44 Colombia peso 2926.32 1.15 2.57 Peru sol 3.236 0.03 5.50 Argentina peso (interbank) 17.2150 -0.03 -7.78 Argentina peso (parallel) 18.23 0.16 -7.73
(Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)