SAO PAULO, July 19 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies plummeted against the dollar on Thursday as traders continued to eye hawkish signals from the Federal Reserve, while Chile's peso was battered by a copper price meltdown. Traders remained focused on recent comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to Congress that the U.S. economy was healthy, sending up the greenback amid bets of rising interest rates. His comments were supported by statements from other officials at the U.S. central bank that also led to bets of monetary tightening. Also encouraged by a so-far solid U.S. corporate earnings season, dollar bulls continued buying in, while political uncertainty continues to weigh on Latin America's largest economies, particularly in Brazil. Traders there are watching the broad-based 'blocao' political bloc there, to see who it chooses as a candidate for the presidential election scheduled for October. Brazil's real currency was off 1.07 percent in mid-day trade while the Mexican peso had fallen 0.84 percent. Traders were especially cool on the Chilean peso, which dropped some 1.4 percent, its biggest intraday loss since November, as prices for key export copper tanked over 2 percent, hitting one-year lows as fund selling accelerated due to worries about demand from the U.S.-China trade dispute. A break in copper prices through a technical floor at $6,090 a tonne accelerated the selloff. Across the region, equities markets were off only slightly with the notable exception of Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index , which fell 1.37 percent in mid-day trade. Traders were generally jittery as what is sure to be a messy convention season for Brazilian political parties to choose candidates effectively kicks off on Friday. Losses were fairly evenly distributed, though the biggest percentage loser was airline Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA , whose shares were off 4.9 percent after analysts at Deutsche Bank cut their price target on the stock.
Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1528 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 1058.77 -0.93 -7.74 MSCI LatAm 2561.93 -1.54 -7.99 Brazil Bovespa 76412.32 -1.23 0.01 Mexico IPC 48913.53 -0.18 -0.89 Chile IPSA 5370.73 -0.13 -3.48 Chile IGPA 27108.52 -0.21 -3.12 Argentina MerVal 26898.40 -0.54 -10.53 Colombia IGBC 12247.19 -0.19 7.71 Venezuela IBC 101256.01 -6.22 7916.21 Currencies daily % YTD % change change
Brazil real 3.8863 -1.19 -14.74 Mexico peso 19.0700 -0.89 3.30 Chile peso 661.5 -1.39 -7.08 Colombia peso 2878.65 -0.54 3.59 Peru sol 3.276 -0.21 -1.19 Argentina peso 27.7250 -0.38 -32.91
Argentina peso 28.6 0.17 -32.76
(Reporting by Gram Slattery Editing by James Dalgleish)