EMERGING MARKETS-Latam assets plummet as coronavirus fears erode risk appetite

Shreyashi Sanyal and Ambar Warrick


* Virus fears spur continued selling of risk assets

* Mexican peso drops as economy shrinks in 2019

* Growth conditions in Brazil and Mexico look dim -analyst

(Adds details, updates prices) Jan 30 (Reuters) - Stocks and currencies in Latin America fell on Thursday, as a rising death toll and increased cases of the Chinese coronavirus brewed widespread fears over its economic impact. A bout of panic selling took over global financial markets as the death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus rose to 170, with more than 8,100 patients infected. Latin American assets have been hit particularly hard by the perceived demand disruptions in China, which is one of the region's largest export destinations. "Given expectations of further escalation in the numbers of infections and deaths related to the coronavirus, anxiety, nervousness and market pessimism internationally should increase globally in the short term," Chetan Sehgal, lead portfolio manager at Templeton Emerging Markets Investment Trust, wrote in a note. The Mexican peso marked its worst drop to the dollar in more than two months, after data showed that Latin America's No. 2 economy contracted for the first time in a decade last year. Nagging uncertainty over the economic management of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has resulted in laggard business activity, a weakness that is expected to persist in 2020. Mexican stocks dropped about 0.7%. "Growth conditions in Brazil and Mexico continue to look dim as economic momentum can at best to be said to be treading water," TD Securities wrote in a note. Brazil's real touched its weakest level against the dollar in two months. Stocks sank to a more-than one month low. Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said the government will submit its administrative reform proposals to Congress "in a week or two" and said the government would do all that it could to pass tax reforms this year. The intended reforms are part of several promised by President Jair Bolsonaro to free up government spending and improve infrastructure. Chile's peso weakened 0.7% against the dollar, hitting levels not seen since early December. Chile's central bank held its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, as it seeks to steady a wavering economy following months of intense and often violent protests. MSCI's index for Latin American currencies fell 1%, while its index for stocks declined more than 2%. The Argentine peso and stocks were flat. The country will make an offer to creditors for the restructuring of its debt in the second week of March, with a looming presidential deadline for dealing with public debt.

Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1910 GMT:

Stock indexes Latest Daily % changeMSCI Emerging Markets 1068.61 -2.63MSCI LatAm 2768.63 -2.22Brazil Bovespa 113350.48 -1.76Mexico IPC 44832.23 -0.67Chile IPSA 4550.75 -0.51Argentina MerVal 40348.40 0.017Colombia COLCAP 1630.47 -0.2Currencies Latest Daily % changeBrazil real 4.2622 -1.03Mexico peso 18.8445 -0.81Chile peso 797.35 -0.73Colombia peso 3408.5 -0.69Peru sol 3.365 -0.62Argentina peso 60.2500 -0.01


(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)