Mexico’s peso led gains among the world’s most traded currencies on Monday as President Enrique Pena Nieto’s party forged ahead in the election for governor of the country’s largest state.
The currency reversed losses as the closely fought vote tilted in favor of candidate Alfredo del Mazo, signaling the ruling PRI will keep a stronghold vital to winning the presidential election next year. It jumped 1.5 percent to 18.4097 per dollar as of 9:24 a.m. in New York. The currency briefly touched 18.3230, levels not seen since before the U.S. election last November.
Investors are relieved that there is a clear margin of victory in the election that was seen too close to call, said Richard Segal, a London-based analyst at Manulife Asset Management. The momentum of the recovery that started in January is continuing as the worst-case scenario investors expected on the North American Free Trade Agreement hasn’t materialized, he said.
“However, it is surprising how strong the peso is given that the Nafta uncertainty hasn’t gone away and the U.S. economy doesn’t look as strong as it did three months ago,” Segal said in an interview. “Given the technical momentum, we may see further gains through the middle of this month, but beyond that, I don’t see the recovery carrying through.”
An express count of the vote showed the PRI candidate ahead with as much as 34 percent of the vote in the State of Mexico compared with as much as 32 percent for the opposition Morena’s Delfina Gomez. The sample count by the state’s electoral institute has a certainty level of 95 percent, according to the agency officials.
“It’s a preamble for 2018,” said Juan Carlos Rodado, the head of research at Paris-based bank Natixis SA. The rally in the Mexican peso is due to a weaker prospect of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the left-wing candidate, of becoming president. “The State of Mexico is one of the most important electoral bastions for Mexico and for the PRI, so had they lost this one Lopez Obrador would’ve gained all the political momentum” to win the 2018 vote.
The peso erased losses of as much as 0.8 percent. Were the currency to stay at this level until Friday, it would close above its 100-week moving average for the first time since June 2014.
Mexico’s currency slumped to a record against the dollar Jan. 11 amid concern that U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to renegotiate Nafta would undermine the country’s trade. It then bounced back as the U.S. administration rolled back plans to terminate the accord, giving investors the best carry trade among major and emerging currencies this year.
The currency has gained 13 percent in 2017, making it the best performer this year among the world’s most traded and emerging market currencies.