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EMERGING MARKETS-Latam currencies gain as oil prices hit 2-1/2 year high

(Recasts with Latin American markets) MEXICO CITY, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies firmed sharply on Wednesday, bolstered by higher oil prices and data showing the global economy was expanding at a healthy clip. Mexico's peso and the Colombian peso both gained around 1 percent, and Brazil's real firmed more than 0.7 percent as crude prices hit a 2-1/2-year high. All three countries are oil exporters, whose currencies often track global appetite for crude. MSCI's emerging market benchmark index advanced 0.5 percent, touching its strongest level since May 2011. Markets were buoyed by Tuesday's data showing healthy growth numbers across developed and emerging economies, which also gave a tailwind to commodities. Brazil's benchmark stock index edged higher to notch another record high just below 78,000 points. Stocks in Latin America's largest economy have been supported by expectations the government could successfully push through a bill to trim social security benefits in a vote slated for February. "We're going to have some profit-taking at some time," said economist Alvaro Bandeira at brokerage Modalmais. "But the market trend is to go higher and seek out 80,000 points." Shares in state-run oil company Petrobras rose around 1 percent even after the company said it agreed to pay $2.95 billion to settle a U.S. class action corruption lawsuit. Shares of Brazilian planemaker Embraer gained 3.8 percent after a local media report that the government could back a tie-up with Boeing Co.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 2215 GMT:

Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1184.21 0.53 2.22 MSCI LatAm 2918.53 0.3 3.2 Brazil Bovespa 77995.16 0.13 2.09 Mexico IPC 49782.23 -0.5 0.87 Chile IPSA 5616.47 -0.04 0.93 Chile IGPA 28227.92 0.03 0.88 Argentina MerVal 31476.26 1.26 4.69 Colombia IGBC 11560.94 0.28 1.67 Venezuela IBC 1261.93 -0.26 -96.02 Currencies daily % YTD % change change

Latest

Brazil real 3.2349 0.74 2.36 Mexico peso 19.3460 1.0 1.83 Chile peso 606.8 -0.05 1.29 Colombia peso 2901.76 0.91 2.77 Peru sol 3.217 0.62 0.62 Argentina peso (interbank) 18.4300 -0.11 0.92 Argentina peso (parallel) 19.24 0.05 -0.05

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City and Flavia Bohone in Sao Paulo; Editing by Leslie Adler)