EMERGING MARKETS-Weak retail figures keep a lid on Brazilian real

SAO PAULO, April 12 (Reuters) - The Brazilian real traded flat against the dollar on Thursday, despite other regional currencies posting gains, as weak retail sales figures raised bets of more monetary easing in Latin America's largest economy. The Brazilian government said February retail sales unexpectedly contracted, falling 0.2 percent from January, below even the most pessimistic forecast of a 0.3 percent increase in a Reuters poll of economists. Traders said the data cleared the way for the nation's central bank to keep cutting the benchmark Selic rate, which currently stands at 6.5 percent, keeping a lid on the real. "The retail statistics open the door for a 6.25 percent Selic rate without issues," said a Sao Paulo derivatives trader. "If retail is weak, it doesn't generate inflation, and the central bank can keep cutting." The Brazilian real had climbed a modest 0.02 percent against the dollar in late morning trade, lagging other major currencies in Latin America. The Mexican peso climbed 0.55 percent on Thursday amid optimism over North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations and a decision by Moody's on Wednesday to revise the nation's credit outlook to "stable" from "negative." Colombia's peso currency jumped 0.52 percent, following higher oil prices, which hovered near four-year highs amid shrinking global inventories and expectations of a supply cut extension by OPEC. Across Latin America, equities markets were mixed. Among the largest winners on the Bovespa, which was off 0.06 percent, was state electricity company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, known as Eletrobras. The country's newly appointed finance minister said on Wednesday night that the company needed to be privatized before the end of June, and a congressional committee approved hearings on the matter after several delays and cancellations.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1447 GMT:

Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1175.96 0.04 1.47 MSCI LatAm 3061.41 0.2 8.03 Brazil Bovespa 85190.59 -0..06 11.50 Mexico IPC 48587.16 0.11 -1.55 Chile IPSA 5623.94 0.18 1.07 Chile IGPA 28126.66 0.16 0.52 Argentina MerVal 32094.34 0.2 6.75 Colombia IGBC 12166.17 -1.12 7.00 Currencies daily % YTD % change change

Latest

Brazil real 3.3846 0.02 -2.11 Mexico peso 18.1200 0.55 8.71 Chile peso 596.28 0.22 3.08 Colombia peso 2706.68 0.52 10.17 Peru sol 3.228 0.15 0.28 Argentina peso 20.1550 0.06 -7.72

(interbank)

Argentina peso 20.41 0.15 -5.78

(parallel)

(Reporting by Gram Slattery and Claudia Violante; Editing by Dan Grebler)