Wires

EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil's real touches new low, stocks hit by fears of fast-spreading virus

Shreyashi Sanyal

fast-spreading virus@

* Brazil confirms first coronavirus case in LatAm

* Brazilian stocks eye worst day in more than 33 months

* Mexico central bank cuts 2020 growth forecast

* Argentine peso hits six-month low

(Adds Brazil's movement, market strategist comments, updates prices throughout) Feb 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's real touched a record low on Wednesday as traders returned from the Carnival holiday only to be alarmed by concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus after Sao Paulo confirmed its first case. The real weakened 1.1% to 4.4470 against the dollar, as it led declines among other Latin American currencies. Brazilian markets reopened to a shock on Wednesday, with stocks tumbling more than 7% as they were on track to log their worst one-day percentage fall since May 2017. Airlines Azul and Gol and major commodity exporters Vale and Petrobras were hit the hardest. "Brazil is trying to catch up to all the drops we have seen in the global market and with the new case that came out, put all that together and you expect this type of reaction to show up," said Gaurav Mallik, chief portfolio strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston. MSCI's index for Latin American stocks tumbled 5.8%. MSCI's index of world stocks lost $3.3 trillion over the last four sessions. As the virus spreads to more parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the number of infected cases has risen to about 80,000 globally, while the death toll exceeds 2,700.

Germany said on Wednesday that it was heading for a coronavirus epidemic and could no longer trace all cases, while health officials in New York said they were monitoring 83 people who visited China. Fears have risen that the economic impact of travel curbs, disruptions to operations and falling demand might be far greater than previously anticipated. Mexico's peso also eased against the dollar as the central bank cut its 2020 economic growth forecast and hiked its inflation view. The Banco de Mexico said projections were shrouded in uncertainty because it was unclear how the spread of the coronavirus would dent global growth. Argentina also returned from an extended weekend with its peso touching a six-month low on Wednesday, while the Merval stock index plummeted as much as 6.6% as they caught up with the rout across global markets this week. Chile stocks fell to a three-year low, down 1.5%, while the currency eked out gains. Chilean Finance Minister Ignacio Briones said he expected the outbreak to have a "limited" impact on Chile's economy despite its dependence on China for the export of its main commodity, copper. Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1524 GMT:

Stock indexes Latest Daily %

change

MSCI Emerging Markets 1042.78 -1.3MSCI LatAm 2501.10 -5.84Brazil Bovespa 105108.38 -7.54Mexico IPC 42868.52 -0.41Chile IPSA 4297.70 -1.46Argentina MerVal 36422.24 -5.648Colombia COLCAP 1589.38 -1.43Currencies Latest Daily %

change

Brazil real 4.4404 0.07Mexico peso 19.2170 -0.71Chile peso 810.1 0.14Colombia peso 3455 -0.59Peru sol 3.409 0.03Argentina peso (interbank) 62.0875 -0.40

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)