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Latin American Stocks Fall Sharply

Latin American stocks fell sharply as part of a global sell off following the downgrade of the United States' credit rating and the debt crises afflicting some European countries.

On Monday, Brazil's Bovespa stock index dropped below 50,000 points for the first time since July 2009, losing more than 8 percent of its value.  The Brazilian currency, the real, fell to 1.6 against the U.S. dollar.  Shares of mining giant Vale and the state-owned oil company, Petrobras, also traded more than 5 percent lower.

President Dilma Rousseff has said Brazil is strong enough to confront this hurdle.  Brazil is Latin America's biggest economy and is now considered one of the world's major emerging economies.   

Elsewhere, Mexico's stock index was down about 5 percent.  Mexico is particularly dependent on the U.S. economy, sending about 80 percent of its exports to its northern neighbor.

Chile's key IPSA index was also down several percentage points Monday.

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