NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Latin American financial markets sank on Friday on worries the economic impact of Tuesday's devastating attacks on the United States could further erode the region's limping economies.|
Investors sold stocks, bonds and currencies, fearing the attacks could curtail credit for the cash-hungry Latin America region and hurt trade with the United States if the trade partner's economy slows further.
With global markets on rocky territory and the U.S. reaction to the unprecedented attacks still uncertain, investors moved into safe investments like gold and U.S. Treasurys.
Brazilian markets, which renewed trading a day after hijacked planes toppled the New York's World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon, have hit new lows all week.
The Bovespa stock index has lurched to 30-month lows after sliding more than 7 percent at one point. Brazil's benchmark stock index closed 271.86 points, or 2.64 percent, lower at 10,034.40, down about 36 percent for the year.
"The market was already bad with the persistent fear of the New York open on Monday," said Felipe Laier, equity analyst at Novacao brokerage in Sao Paulo. "Then the S&P statement came out, and that made things even worse."
Brazil's real also continued under pressure, 5 centavos weaker than Thursday's close at 2.715 reals per dollar but off its all-time low of 2.74 on Thursday.
In Argentina, the leading MerVal stock index managed to close 0.35 percent higher at 266.03, after falling nearly 6 percent at midday as investors worried about a possible credit crunch that could further hamper the country's ability to recover from a three-year long recession.
Chile's peso plunged to historic lows even though the Central Bank intervened to prop up the currency. The Chilean peso weakened 2.3 percent from Thursday to 697.
Mexico's peso, meanwhile, held relatively steady at 9.4940 per dollar, a modest 0.40 centavo loss given the lack of key references since the Mexican and U.S. stock exchanges have been closed all week.
Toronto ends at 2-year low on attack jitters
In Canada, the key Toronto Stock Exchange 300 composite index closed down 3 percent, or 211.36 points, at 6,890.90.
It was the first time the index had dropped below the key 7,000 level since October 1999, and could hint at what to expect from U.S. stock markets when they reopen on Monday.
The financial services sector, home to the banks and insurance companies, dropped nearly 5 percent. In that group, Canadian property insurance and reinsurance firm Fairfax Financial fell C$2.01 to C$199.99 after it said its exposure to the blasts would come in at US$100 million-to-US$125 million.
Canadian airline stocks fell, led by the country's dominant airline, Air Canada, which dropped 92 Canadian cents to C$4, as analysts already estimate that service disruptions will cost Air Canada as much as C$50 million.
Upscale hotel Four Seasons Hotels closed C$5.70 lower to C$55.30 as investors were unsure how the attacks in the United States would hurt the hotel and travel industry.
-- from staff and wire reports