EMERGING MARKETS-Mexico stock exchange leads gains on NAFTA optimism

(Updates prices) SAO PAULO, April 5 (Reuters) - Latin American equities rose across the board on Thursday, with Mexico's benchmark IPC index among the top gainers on hopes that NAFTA negotiators will soon strike a preliminary deal. Analysts at multiple Mexican brokerages said optimism that the North American Free Trade Agreement will be successfully renegotiated was supporting the IPC index, which climbed 1.25 percent. Sources close to the negotiations said the United States, Mexico and Canada could announce a settlement on some of the thorniest issues in the pact, such as regional content for automotives, by mid-April. Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a positive assessment of NAFTA negotiations, saying the talks were "moving forward in a significant way." The Mexican peso, however, slipped 0.57 percent due to the strengthening dollar. Brazil's Bovespa index also saw strong gains, up 1.14 percent in afternoon trading. The country's top court early on Thursday rejected former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's plea to avoid prison while he appeals a corruption conviction, a vote that likely ends his political career and hobbles any possible campaign for an October presidential election. Lula is Brazil's most popular politician, but is feared by investors for his redistributive policies and his belief in heavy state involvement in the economy. The corruption conviction likely bars him from running, and his imprisonment, which could happen within a week, would make campaigning all but impossible. The region's markets were also supported by less bellicose rhetoric from international leaders on ongoing trade tiffs. Larry Kudlow, U.S. President Donald Trump's top economic advisor, said the United States and China were involved in a "negotiation" rather than a trade war, while China said the effective date of its planned tariffs on U.S. exports depended on when U.S. action took effect. Chile's benchmark IPSA index also jumped 1.16 percent, as the country's dominant export, copper, climbed more than 1 percent on easing trade tensions.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1931 GMT:

Stock indexes Latest Daily YTD pct pct change

change

MSCI Emerging Markets 1,165.33 0.84 -0.24 MSCI LatAm 3,067.25 1.35 7.01 Brazil Bovespa 85,320.24 1.14 11.67 Mexico IPC 48,049.14 1.25 -2.64 Chile IPSA 5,607.03 1.16 0.76 Chile IGPA 28,060.86 1.08 0.29 Argentina MerVal 31,726.53 1.3 5.52 Colombia IGBC 11,832.14 1.02 4.06 Venezuela IBC 5,859.29 8.37 363.87 Currencies Latest Daily YTD pct pct change

change

Brazil real 3.3441 -0.12 -0.92 Mexico peso 18.2025 -0.57 8.22 Chile peso 603.35 -0.15 1.87 Colombia peso 2,790 0.05 6.88 Peru sol 3.226 -0.06 0.34 Argentina peso 20.1900 -0.05 -7.88

(interbank)

Argentina peso 20.33 1.33 -5.41

(parallel)

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; additional reporting by Julia Love; Editing by Richard Chang)