Mexico Central Bank Sells $258 Million at Dollar Auction

Mexico’s central bank sold dollars for the first time since 2009 to prop up the peso after it plunged to a six-month low.

The bank sold $258 million at an average exchange rate of 14.01 pesos per dollar, according to a statement on its website. Since November, it has been offering $400 million daily at an exchange rate that’s at least 2 percent weaker than the previous day’s official fix level. That rate was 13.7203 yesterday. Mexico’s peso pared losses after touching its lowest level in almost six months.

“The idea is to prevent speculators from artificially taking the exchange rate to levels that are too high,” Mario Copca, a currency strategist at Metanalisis SA, said in a telephone interview from Mexico City. “We saw it function.”

Mexico’s currency has lost 5.8 percent over the past month as concern mounts that newly elected European leaders will shun austerity measures and that Greece will exit the euro. Concern that Europe’s debt crisis would drag on global growth and Mexican exports helped make the peso the worst performing major Latin American currency in 2011.

The currency dropped 0.6 percent to 13.9887 per dollar at 4 p.m. in Mexico City. Earlier today, the currency fell to 14.0775, the weakest since Nov. 28.

The bank sold dollars in the second of three daily auctions it held today.

The yield on Mexican local-currency bonds due in 2024 rose five basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 6.27 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The price fell 0.47 centavo to 132.38 centavos per peso.

The central bank last sold dollars on Dec. 17, 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Bain in New York at bbain2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at papadopoulos@bloomberg.net

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