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Mexico Peso Falls as Ukraine Crisis Sinks Emerging-Market Assets

Mexico’s peso fell for the first time in three sessions as mounting tension between the U.S. and Russia over the conflict in Ukraine fueled a selloff in emerging-market assets.

The peso slipped 0.6 percent to 13.3325 per dollar at 4 p.m. in Mexico City, the lowest on a closing basis since Feb. 19. Yields on benchmark peso bonds maturing in 2024 rose one basis point, 0.01 percentage point, to 6.36 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mexico’s currency fell along with most of its emerging-market counterparts as geopolitical tensions rose after Russia’s parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the authority to send troops into Ukraine last week. The upheaval in the former Soviet republic is prompting investors to seek out the safest assets, according to Roberto Galvan, a trader at Intercam Casa de Bolsa SA.

Traders “prefer in these cases to sell pesos and buy dollars to be a little more secure before a crisis,” Galvan said in a phone interview from Mexico City. “This doesn’t depend on geographical proximity. It has more to do with a safe haven.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Kiev after discussing sanctions against Russia. Ukrainian Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk yesterday urged Putin to pull back his military forces, warning that the two nations were “on the brink of disaster.” Ukraine’s interim government is seeking aid from sources including the International Monetary Fund to shore up finances and pay bondholders after the toppling of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

In Mexico, the central bank said today that workers living abroad sent $1.58 billion home in January, compared with a median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg of $1.52 billion.

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