Peru: Morning News Roundup – Friday Jan 11

Freetrade deals critical to foreign ties, envoy says

Free trade agreements with Latin America aren’t just about business. "Free trade in Latin America is critical to our relations with our hemispheric partners," said P. Michael McKinley, U.S. ambassador to Peru. "It’s also critical to the economic and security interests of the United States." McKinley spoke Thursday in West Palm Beach at a meeting of the World Trade Center Palm Beach. He is touring Florida cities in support of pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. He has visited Tampa and Gainesville and is scheduled to speak in Fort Lauderdale today. (Palm Beach Post – click here to read complete article by Susan Salisbury)

Seven killed, 25 missing in Peru mudslide

At least seven people have been killed and 25 missing after a passenger bus was swept away in a mudslide triggered by heavy rains in Peru’s northern Amazonas province, Spanish news agency EFE reported on Friday. "The accident occurred Thursday. The bus was carrying an unconfirmed number of passengers and was hit by a landslide of mud and stones," Guillermo Arteta, the head of Highway Protection Directorate, said. "In the next few hours, we hope to rescue a larger number of people. We hope they are in good health," Arteta said. The bus belonged to Tarapoto Tours and was plying between the Tarapoto and Chiclayo cities. (Deccan Herald – click here to read complete article)

Peru Bank Increases Rate to 5.25% to Tame Inflation (Update2)

Peru’s central bank raised its benchmark lending rate to the highest in six years to tame accelerating inflation driven by consumer demand. Bank directors at a meeting today increased the reference rate by a quarter percentage point to 5.25 percent, matching the predictions of 10 of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Surging prices for imported commodities such as soybeans, wheat and oil last year spurred the Andean country’s steepest inflation rate since 1998. At the same time, retailers are raising prices for toys, cars and electronics as Peruvians spend the cash generated by record mining and gas exports. (Bloomberg – click here to read complete article by Alex Emery)

Bank Deals Kick Off Syndications Market

Three LatAm banks have launched new loans in the past two days, kicking off activity in the syndications market for 2008. The deals should provide data points on pricing, as well as give borrowers with pent up financing needs a lead to follow. Peru’s Banco de Credito del Peru is looking to do a $300m 3-year facility via Standard Chartered, JPMorgan and Wachovia. It steps up from Libor plus 50bp in year one to 55bp in year two to 65bp in year three. In Brazil, Unibanco tapped WestLB and Standard Chartered to lead a $250m 5-tranche facility and BicBanco, a mid-cap bank that went public last year is seeking $100m across two short termed trade pieces. (Latin Finance)

In Peru, Novalima Bangs the Drums of Change

Inside a wisely soundproofed studio, where Afro-Peruvian group Novalima is recording a new album, frenzied hands beat congas, bongos, and a drum set with cowbells. Sitting atop cajóns, percussionists pound on the crate-like instruments in between their legs, singing into microphones. Elsewhere in the cramped space, musicians behind laptops, keyboards, and mixers concoct bass-heavy beats as singer Milagros Guerrero bobs to the music, microphone in hand. Her velvety voice may have a melancholic gravity, but it floats effortlessly above the boisterous rhythms. (Christian Science Monitor – click here to read complete article by Nina Roberts)