EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil shares gain on strong earnings, real slides again

    * Real down despite central bank guidance on intervention 
    * Other Latam currencies mixed 

    By Sruthi Shankar
    Feb 19 (Reuters) - A batch of strong results and a decline
in the number of new coronavirus cases in China lifted the
Brazilian shares on Wednesday, although the real slid for a
third session.
    Brazil's real was down 0.4% at 4.3746 per dollar,
hovering near an all-time low even as Brazil's central bank
president, Roberto Campos Neto, said on Tuesday the bank stands
ready to intervene again to address illiquidity, excessive
market moves or currency weakness.
    But he also stressed the real has a free-floating exchange
rate. With interest rates at a record low, the real fell to an
all time low of 4.38 per dollar last week, prompting the central
bank's intervention in the foreign exchange swaps market.

    "I think the central bank is in a tricky situation where
perceived higher power to intervene has dropped and at the same
time, cutting rates reduces the power they may have," said Koon
Chow, an EM macro and FX strategist at UBP.
    "Generally low rates are hurting the real. They (central
bank) pushed it more aggressively than anyone else." 
    Economists have cut 2020 growth expectations for the country
following a string of weak data amid worries the coronavirus
outbreak will dent growth in China - Brazil's largest trading
    Other currencies in the region were subdued, but stock
markets were generally higher as the tally of newly reported
cases in China fell for a second day to the lowest since
    The Bovespa gained 0.9%, with WEG SA,
Latin America's largest maker of electric motors, leading gains 
after reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings.    
    Shares in IRB Brasil rose 4.4% after the
reinsurer posted a 70% jump in fourth-quarter net profit, while
meatpacker JBS gained 2.5% after saying it has agreed
to acquire production facilities from Empire Packing Company, as
well as the Ledbetter brand for $238 million.
    Investors are awaiting word from the International Monetary
Fund about the sustainability of Argentina's debt and whether
official meetings would yield a recommendation of a steep debt
    Argentine bond prices have stumbled 3.5% lower so far this
year as uncertainty rises about the ability of the country to
pay $44 billion to the IMF and tens of billions of dollar more
to private bondholders.
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1501 GMT:
           Stock indexes                     Latest    Daily %
 MSCI Emerging Markets                        1103.33       0.7
 MSCI LatAm                                   2773.83      0.39
 Brazil Bovespa                             116031.01      0.92
 Mexico IPC                                  45126.58      0.34
 Chile IPSA                                   4557.19       0.3
 Argentina MerVal                            38295.76     0.364
 Colombia COLCAP                              1674.46      0.55
               Currencies                    Latest    Daily %
 Brazil real                                   4.3746     -0.40
 Mexico peso                                  18.6055     -0.10
 Chile peso                                       797     -0.01
 Colombia peso                                3405.56     -0.12
 Peru sol                                      3.3818      0.01
 Argentina peso (interbank)                   61.7100     -0.08

 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru)

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