Carlos Slim of Mexico Says Peso Strong....

Billionaire Carlos Slim, the world's fourth-richest man, said the Mexican peso is ``a little strong'' and is hurting the nation's ability to compete.

Mexico's peso has gained 2.8 percent this year, the second- best performer against the U.S. dollar among the 16 most-traded currencies.

``It's a little strong,'' Slim, whose telephone, banking and industrial companies account for almost half of Mexico's benchmark stock index, said in an interview today in New York. ``When a currency strengthens too much, you lose competitiveness.''

The peso has climbed on increased demand for the nation's local currency-denominated securities. Mexico's overnight deposit rate is about 9.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent in the U.S. Mohamed El-Erian at Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Co. is among investors who expect the currency to weaken as the central bank lowers the benchmark lending rate to spur economic growth.

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