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EMERGING MARKETS-Chilean, Argentine equities hit record highs

SAO PAULO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Chile's equities market hit a record intraday high on Thursday on positive developments for the nation's lithium and copper industries, while Argentina's benchmark index also rose amid continued heavy interest from international investors. On Wednesday evening, Chilean state development agency Corfo said it had struck a deal with lithium miner SQM, ending a long dispute over royalties in Chile's Salar de Atacama and potentially unlocking significant investments.

That deal frees the miner to apply for an increase in its production quota during a demand boom for lithium, which is used in batteries that power electric cars. While SQM's stock price was little changed, shares of its controlling companies rose. Sociedad de Inversiones Oro Blanco SA was up 2.19 percent, and Norte Grande SA gained 2.73 percent. "We believe that the scope of the revision of the quota is greater than the market was expecting," local brokerage Banchile wrote in a note to clients. On Wednesday, the Chilean government raised its forecast for the average 2018 price for copper, the nation's most important export by far, to $3.06 from $2.95 previously. However, much of that revision was due to expectations of mining strikes. Chile's blue-chip IPSA index was up 0.09 percent in the late morning after rising 0.3 percent to an all-time high. Argentina's smaller Merval index also hit an all-time high after a Tuesday decision by the central bank to cut the interest rate on its Lebac securities. Argentina's stock market has benefited in recent months from foreign capital inflows, as high liquidity abroad combines with a favorable political outlook for the nation. Among the Merval's big winners was power distributor Cia de Transporte de Energia Electrica de Alta Tension SA, known as Transener, which shot up 4.3 percent after local brokerage Allaria Ledesma raised its price target for the stock. The Merval had risen 1.12 percent by midday.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1454 GMT:

Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1228,86 0.51 5,54 MSCI LatAm 3070,77 0.66 7.86 Brazil Bovespa 81314,24 0.15 6.43 Mexico IPC 49809,65 0.16 0.92 Chile IPSA 5791,51 0.09 4.08 Chile IGPA 29104,28 0.09 4.02 Argentina MerVal 33974,36 1.12 13.00 Colombia IGBC 11824,16 -0.07 3.99 Venezuela IBC 2337,16 0.44 -92.63 Currencies daily % YTD % change change

Latest

Brazil real 3,2050 0.33 3.38 Mexico peso 18,6350 0.42 5.71 Chile peso 605,3 0.22 1.54 Colombia peso 2828,89 0.34 5.41 Peru sol 3,211 0.00 0.81 Argentina peso (interbank) 18,8400 0.11 -1.27 Argentina peso (parallel) 19,57 0.26 -1.74

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)