high@ (Adds details on Chilean stocks, analyst comment; changes dateline, previous SAO PAULO) MEXICO CITY, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies firmed 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. Chilean stocks rose to a record high, boosted by gains in miner SQM and LATAM Airlines. 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.
Further supporting Mexico's peso were minutes this week from the last central bank meeting that suggested policymakers will not soon move to cut borrowing costs, which were raised to a more than eight-year high to fight a spike in inflation. "With a hawkish Banxico and low volatility the landscape is still positive for EM currencies," said Juan Carlos Alderete, strategist at Banorte-Ixe. Mexico's peso firmed more that 0.7 percent while the Colombian peso gained nearly 1.3 percent. A batch of mixed U.S. economic data have cast a shadow on the nation's economic recovery, driving some investors to dial back bets on an interest rate increase by the Fed this year. A slower path of U.S. rate hikes could boost demand for high-yielding assets, benefiting currencies from emerging-market economies. In Brazil, 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 boosting 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 2002 GMT:
Stock indexes Latest Daily YTD pct pct
MSCI Emerging Markets 1,087.38 0.46 25.53 MSCI LatAm 2,888.66 -0.04 23.46 Brazil Bovespa 71,017.22 -0.16 17.92 Mexico IPC 51,355.15 -0.22 12.52 Chile IPSA 5,176.11 0.45 24.68 Chile IGPA 25,842.31 0.45 24.64 Argentina MerVal 23,521.36 0.55 39.03 Colombia IGBC 10,897.56 -0.27 7.60 Venezuela IBC 203,085.94 1.67 540.54 Currencies Latest Daily YTD pct pct
Brazil real 3.1528 -0.23 3.04 Mexico peso 17.6000 0.72 17.86 Chile peso 634.2 0.54 5.76 Colombia peso 2,923 1.27 2.69 Peru sol 3.236 0.03 5.50 Argentina peso (interbank) 17.2100 0.00 -7.76 Argentina peso (parallel) 18.23 0.16 -7.73
(Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)