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EMERGING MARKETS-LatAm currencies strengthen as U.S. wage growth slows

SAO PAULO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies strengthened on Friday after U.S. wage growth eased, fueling bets that the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates this year. U.S. average hourly earnings rose rose just 0.1 percent in August after two months of stronger gains, data showed on Firday, adding to concerns over sluggish inflation that remains far below the Fed's 2 percent target. A slower path of U.S. rate hikes may sustain demand for high-yielding assets in emerging markets, bolstering the value of their currencies. "Real economic activity is solid but price and wage pressures remain weak," Citigroup strategists wrote in a client note. "Markets, and the Fed, will remain in 'wait and see' mode." Currencies from Brazil, Mexico and Colombia firmed around 0.5 percent. Gains in the Chilean peso were limited by bets on interest rate cuts later in the year after minutes from the central bank's last policy meeting showed one policymaker voted for a reduction. The peso has rallied in recent weeks as copper prices soared, feeding expectations of easing inflationary pressure. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 1.8 percent, also helped by stronger-than-expected economic growth in the second quarter that suggested a recovery from the deepest recession in a century remained on track. Shares of BRF SA, the world's largest chicken exporter, rose 2.5 percent after it announced Chief Executive Pedro de Andrade Faria plans to leave by the end of the year, following a series of heavy quarterly losses.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1600 GMT:

Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1091.76 0.37 26.14 MSCI LatAm 2913.78 1.42 22.75 Brazil Bovespa 72077.81 1.75 19.68 Mexico S&P/BVM IPC 51214.79 0.01 12.21 Chile IPSA 5148.89 -0.08 24.03 Chile IGPA 25711.35 -0.06 24.00 Argentina MerVal 23677.21 0.37 39.95 Colombia IGBC 11100.22 0.47 9.60 Venezuela IBC 235414.30 0 642.51 Currencies daily % YTD %

change change Latest

Brazil real 3.1323 0.47 3.73 Mexico peso 17.7865 0.55 16.63 Chile peso 624.15 0.07 7.46 Colombia peso 2933.16 0.48 2.33 Peru sol 3.238 0.03 5.44 Argentina peso (interbank) 17.2350 0.49 -7.89 Argentina peso (parallel) 18.11 0.83 -7.12

(Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Alistair Bell)