Mexico peso tumbles as Trump wins U.S. presidency in upset

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[November 09, 2016]  By Michael O'Boyle and Noe Torres

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's peso recovered somewhat from a 13 percent selloff on Wednesday after Republican Donald Trump's surprise victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for the U.S. presidency, as investors expected action by the central bank to support the currency.

Trump's threats to rip up a free trade agreement with Mexico and to tax money sent home by migrants to pay for building a wall on the southern U.S. border have made the peso particularly vulnerable to events in the race for the White House.

Mexico's currency <MXN=D2> weakened by more than 13 percent in after hours and Asian trading on Wednesday, breaking past 20 pesos per dollar, which would be its biggest fall since the 1994 Tequila Crisis.

However, the peso pulled back to trade around 8.5 percent weaker at 19.88 per dollar early on Wednesday, helped by expectations that Mexico's central bank and finance ministry would announce measures to support it at a joint media conference at 0700 local time (0800 EST/1300 GMT).

"Very hard times are coming to Mexico," said analyst Gabriela Siller of Mexican bank BASE.

"We think the central bank could intervene by raising its interest rate because the (peso) movement was so strong, above all in order to head off imminent capital flight," Siller said.

Five economists told Reuters they expected the central bank to raise its benchmark interest rate by an impromptu 75 to 150 basis points on Wednesday if Trump wins.

"I don't think a Trump scenario was taken seriously in the last days by the market," said Ernesto Revilla, an economist at Banamex and the government's former chief economist. "Hopefully there are some contingency plans by authorities and they can take measures to protect the Mexican economy."

Central bank head Agustin Carstens last week said Mexico was prepared for an "adverse" result in the U.S. election, which he has said could hit the country like a "hurricane."

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A board displaying the exchange rates of Mexican peso against the U.S. dollar and the euro is seen at a foreign exchange house at the international airport in Mexico City, Mexico November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Mexico has more than $175 billion in foreign reserves, and Carstens said last month he would consider using a $90 billion International Monetary Fund flexible credit line "in the event of an external shock."

The central bank has already raised its rate three times this year, lifting it to 4.75 percent to anchor inflation expectations following a sharp depreciation of the peso.

Trump's win caught the market off guard. The peso rallied nearly 1.4 percent on Tuesday before official election results began to be released as the market bet Clinton would win.

(Additonal reporting by Jamie McGeever; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner and Lisa Von Ahn)

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