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EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil's Bovespa crosses 96,000; Latam currencies steady

Agamoni Ghosh

Jan 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's benchmark stock index reached an all-time high on Friday on positive investor sentiment about the new government's pension reform plans and U.S.-China trade talks, while Latin American currencies steadied against the U.S. dollar. The Bovespa, one of 2018's top performing indexes across the globe, hit a record high, crossing the 96,000 mark as investors hoped the new government's pension reforms plans may be revealed earlier than expected. A government source said on Thursday that Economy Minister Paulo Guedes is expected to detail the reform proposal at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos next week, sooner that previously suggested. Market sentiment has been positive toward policies and reforms proposed by President Jair Bolsonaro's new government, in particular pension reform, which could bring down the country's high fiscal deficit. A Reuters poll found that Brazil's sluggish economic is expected to grow 2.4 percent in 2019 versus 1.3 percent last year, provided the new government implements promised reforms and helps expand the private sector. Markets were also boosted by positive sentiment around U.S.-China trade talks after a Wall Street Journal report suggested U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports, even though a spokesman from the department has denied it.

"That's what seems to have got the markets excited even though the treasuries seem to deny it, but that's a very short-term impact," said Koon Chow, EM macro and FX strategist at UBP. Stocks in Chile climbed to a near four-month high, on track for a fourth straight week of gains with Banco de Chile emerging as one of the biggest gainers. Currencies in Latin America steadied, with Chile's peso hovering around one-month highs as the price of copper, the country's main export, rose. Brazil's real and Mexico's peso also steadied, with the latter looking set for a eighth straight week of gains.

Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1400 GMT

Stock indexes daily %Latest changeMSCI Emerging Markets 1016.25 0.72MSCI LatAm 2866.75 1.12Brazil Bovespa 96129.41 0.82Mexico IPC - -Chile IPSA 5464.57 0.53Argentina MerVal - -Colombia IGBC - -Currencies daily %

change Latest

Brazil real 3.7417 0.13Mexico peso 19.0072 0.02Chile peso 668.4 0.22Colombia peso - -Peru sol - -Argentina peso (interbank) - -

(Reporting by Agamoni Ghosh in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)