Mexico

Even in an industry devastated by the coronavirus crisis, Latin American airlines stand out. Five of the biggest carriers in the region -- Latam Airlines Group SA, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, Azul SA, Avianca and Volaris -- have seen about $12 billion in their market value wiped out since the end of January through Wednesday’s close, Bloomberg News reported. On average, their stock tumbled 78% in local currency terms, more than all 23 members in the Bloomberg World Airlines Index. The global gauge is down 46% in the period.

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Straining under a massive debt load and at risk of a ratings downgrade, Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) was hit with a record jump in its pension liabilities last year as more workers retired on generous benefits, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Pemex is fighting to avoid having its bonds cut to "junk" or speculative grade, which would put pressure on Mexico's sovereign rating and deal a heavy blow to populist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to revive it.

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A court ordered businessman Miguel Aleman Magnani to pay 624 million pesos (about $32 million) to broadcaster Grupo Televisa SAB in a dispute over a radio-station deal, ratcheting up the financial pressure on a tycoon who also controls debt-laden Interjet airline, Bloomberg News reported. Televisa had agreed in July to sell its 50% stake in radio operator Sistema Radiopolis to Corporativo Coral, a company controlled by Aleman Magnani, who also is named in the court ruling.

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Low inflation, tight public spending and a reduction in the vast debts of loss-making state oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) have helped spruce up Mexico’s so-called risk profile, which reached its “safest” level in five years this month, Reuters reported. Risk premiums of investing in Mexico, as measured by traders in credit default swaps (CDS), hit their lowest level since November 2014 despite business and investor concerns about the economic management of the leftist government.

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Mexico’s central bank delivered its fourth quarter-point reduction in a row opting to continue the cautious pace of easing despite the economy having ground to a halt, the Financial Times reported. Banxico on Thursday lowered its key lending rate to 7.25 per cent as expected. Only one of the five board members voted for a half-point cut, the bank said in a statement. While the central bank had room for a bolder move, analysts said there were lingering concerns about core inflation and fears a surprise bigger cut could wipe out the peso’s recent gains.

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Mexican carrier Jaguar Transportation stopped its trucking services this morning (Dec. 10) and could be shutting down as part of Celadon's U.S. chapter 11 filing on Dec. 9, FreightWaves reported. Several freight and logistics professionals confirmed to FreightWaves that cross-border account representatives for Jaguar Transportation said that they had ceased services. At one of the company's locations, the news prompted drivers who feared they would not be paid to block access to scores of trucks and trailers.

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Top officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States signed a fresh overhaul of a quarter-century-old trade pact yesterday that aims to improve enforcement of worker rights and hold down prices for biologic drugs by eliminating a patent provision, Reuters reported. The signing ceremony in Mexico City launched what may be the final approval effort for U.S. President Donald Trump’s three-year quest to revamp the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal he has blamed for the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs.
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Mexico’s central bank opted to cut its key lending rate by a quarter-point to 7.75 per cent, rather than the half point move that some analysts said it had room for, after the economy contracted in July by more than had been expected, the Financial Times reported. Thursday’s decision was not unanimous however, as two of the five board members pushed for a half-point cut. Banxico’s second cut in a row is a bid to revive the moribund economy as inflation has tamed and the peso is stable against the dollar.

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Latin America is on the verge of suffering another lost decade. The region, still struggling to cope with the end of the commodities boom, has expanded only 0.7% a year on average during the past few years, Bloomberg News reported. That’s hardly enough to keep up with population growth, meaning that people are poorer today than they were in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. Now its biggest economies -- Brazil, Mexico and Argentina -- have contracted simultaneously for the second time in just over three years, causing yet another headache for policy makers.

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True believers in Petroleos Mexicanos are fueling a rally in its bonds, reckoning that government support for the beleaguered state-owned company will ultimately provide a backstop from any troubles, Bloomberg News reported. Investors including MetLife, Pictet and SMBC Nikko Securities say Pemex’s bonds were overly punished last year amid concerns the government isn’t doing enough to address the company’s problems. The challenge of falling production given Pemex’s $108 billion of debt and high taxes is real, but optimists argue its yields shouldn’t be much above sovereign notes.

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