SAO PAULO, March 9 (Reuters) - Latin American equities soared across the board on Friday, with Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index gaining the most intraday in three weeks, after new economic data in the United States eased fears of tighter monetary policy there. The U.S. Labor Department said non-farm payrolls rose by 313,000 jobs in February, the biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years. Crucially, wage growth was relatively subdued, which tempered concerns that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates four time this year instead of three, as previously expected. "In general, the data has been pointing toward growth at a moderate rate, which points to maintaining a gradual rhythm of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve," analysts at brokerage Capital Markets wrote in a note to clients. Mexico's IPC index rose 1.38 percent in morning trade, roughly in line with Wall Street, while Chile's IPSA rose 0.98 percent, and Argentina's small and volatile Merval popped 3.39 percent, supported by the country's energy sector. In Brazil, markets were further supported by weak inflation data, which boosted rate cut bets. The Bovespa had risen 1.95 percent by early afternoon. Vale SA, which produces key steelmaking ingredient iron ore, reversed a series of losses, some of them serious, after U.S. President Donald Trump indicated that he was open to negotiating a number of exceptions to steel import tariffs. The company's shares had risen 1.6 percent in afternoon trade, accounting for about 10 percent of the Bovespa's rise.
Shares of Embraer SA rose 6.6 percent after the chief executive of Boeing Co, in an interview with Reuters, appeared upbeat about the possibility of acquiring the Brazilian plane maker. Shares of MRV Engenharia e Participações SA, one of Latin America's largest homebuilders, climbed 3.3 percent after the company posted strong fourth-quarter results and its co-CEO said multiple rounds of extraordinary dividends could be on the way in 2018.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1300 GMT:
Stock indexes Latest daily % YTD % change
MSCI Emerging Markets 1177,98 1,76 1,69 MSCI LatAm 2909,76 2,89 2,89 Brazil Bovespa 77891,04 1,95 1,95 Mexico IPC 50033,95 1,38 1,38 Chile IPSA 5618,91 0,98 0,98 Chile IGPA 28220,56 0,86 0,86 Argentina MerVal 31084,42 3,39 3,39 Colombia IGBC 11528,66 0,44 1,39 Venezuela IBC 1265,26 0,17 -96,01 Currencies Latest daily % YTD % change
Brazil real 3,2619 -0,10 1,58 Mexico peso 19,4760 1,14 1,14 Chile peso 606,5 1,34 1,34 Colombia peso 2928,23 1,84 1,84 Peru sol 3,237 0,00 0,00 Argentina peso (interbank) 18,3900 1,41 1,14 Argentina peso (parallel) 19,2 0,42 0,16
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)