EMERGING MARKETS-LatAm currencies gain on U.S. data in thin trading

SAO PAULO, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Most Latin American currencies firmed on Thursday after data showing a widening U.S. trade gap offset figures demonstrating a continuingly firm labor market. Traders closely track U.S. economic data in search of clues to the pace of U.S. interest rate increases in coming months. Though employment has shown signs of consistent strength, mixed reports on economic activity have fueled bets that the Federal Reserve will be slow in tightening policy, supporting demand for high-yielding emerging market currencies. Currencies from Brazil, Mexico and Chile firmed between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, while the Colombian peso was nearly flat. Traders mostly kept quiet, with little news on the horizon ahead of the New Years holiday. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 0.4 percent, led by shares of loyalty program Smiles Fidelidade SA after it announced it will cut prices of tickets sold Cia de Locação das Américas SA jumped almost 10 percent after it announced a cash and stock deal to create the second-largest car rental company in Brazil through a tie-up with rival Unidas SA.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1340 GMT:

Stock indexes daily % YTD %

change change Latest

MSCI Emerging Markets 1153.67 0.81 32.72 MSCI LatAm 2815.63 0.6 19.58 Brazil Bovespa 76353.41 0.37 26.78 Chile IPSA 5538.67 0.77 33.42 Chile IGPA 27851.43 0.68 34.33 Currencies daily % YTD %

change change Latest

Brazil real 3.3049 0.18 -1.69 Mexico peso 19.6460 0.19 5.59 Chile peso 615.24 0.11 9.01 Colombia peso 2974.74 -0.02 0.90 Peru sol 3.235 0.15 5.53 Argentina peso (interbank) 18.6000 -0.83 -14.65 Argentina peso (parallel) 19 -0.53 -11.47

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)