EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks, currencies up as Fed remains in focus

Reuters

(Recasts; adds closing figures) By Bruno Federowski SAO PAULO, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks and currencies rose on Tuesday as crude oil prices settled higher and traders assessed the likelihood of a U.S. interest rate hike following mixed signals from Federal Reserve officials.

In cautious comments last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. central bank might have to run a "high-pressure economy" to reverse damage to the economy from the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Her remarks fanned speculation that the Fed might permit inflation to rise above its 2 percent target by keeping U.S. rates low for longer.

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in September, the biggest gain in five months, but in line with expectations in a Reuters poll of analysts.

After the release of the inflation figures, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said the U.S. central bank is "very close" to its employment and price targets.

The Mexican peso and Brazilian real both strengthened around 1 percent on Tuesday.

The real, which benefited from expectations of inflows stemming from a bill granting amnesty to Brazilians that pay taxes and fines over undeclared assets held abroad, settled at 3.18 per greenback, while the peso reached its highest level since Sept. 8, closing at 18.60 per dollar.

Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index advanced 1.73 percent, supported by shares of state-controlled oil company PetrĂ³leo Brasileiro SA .

Petrobras, as the company is known, agreed to sell its mothballed Okinawa refinery and related assets to Japan's Taiyo Oil Co for $129.3 million.

Expectations of OPEC output curbs lifted oil prices, with benchmark Brent crude settling up 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $51.68 a barrel.

Key Latin American stock indexes at 2104 GMT: Stock indexes Latest Daily pct YTD pct change change MSCI Emerging 908.55 1.55 14.41 Markets MSCI LatAm 2,571.56 2.13 40.54 Brazil Bovespa 63,782.21 1.73 47.13 Mexico IPC 48,106.12 0.94 11.93 Chile IPSA 4,202.16 1.21 14.18 Chile IGPA 21,018.37 1.06 15.79 Argentina MerVal 17,847.63 1.03 52.87 Colombia IGBC 10,030.74 0.84 17.36 Venezuela IBC 13,568.29 -0.02 -6.99 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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