Mexican peso slips 5.4%, and stocks follow


MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican peso slumped another 5.4 percent yesterday and stocks gyrated amid skepticism about the government's ability to gain control over a financial crisis, money managers and traders said.

"You are seeing a total loss of confidence by international investors in this government," said John Hsu, president of the New York-based John Hsu Capital Group.

The peso finished near a record low, at 5.575 to the dollar. The peso has plunged 38 percent since the government devalued the currency on Dec. 20.

Mexican stocks initially plunged with the peso but recovered much of their losses late in the day on hopes that a visit by Finance Minister Guillermo Ortiz to New York today will restore confidence in the month-old administration of President Ernesto Zedillo.

The benchmark bolsa index fell 10.68, or 0.47 percent, to 2,267.79. The index dropped as much as 132.67 points, or 5.7 percent, earlier in the day.

Investors speculated that Mr. Ortiz may present more concrete details of the government's plan than Mr. Zedillo did Tuesday. Mr. Ortiz, who was named last week to replace Jaime Serra, is scheduled to speak this morning in New York.

Mr. Zedillo unveiled the plan in a nationally televised speech Tuesday aimed at stabilizing Mexico's financial markets and rebuilding bridges with investors.

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