EMERGING MARKETS-LatAm stocks mixed on Greek hopes, German data

Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:44am EST

Related Topics

* German business confidence rises

* Volumes low due to shortened U.S. trading session

* Brazil Bovespa gains 1.44 pct, Mexico IPC dips 0.06 pct

By Asher Levine and Michael O'Boyle

SAO PAULO/MEXICO CITY, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Latin American stocks traded mixed on Friday as low volumes kept indexes volatile despite optimism about a Greek debt deal and positive economic data from Germany.

The MSCI Latin American stock index rose 0.77 percent to 3,591.92 as a technical momentum indicator known as the MACD neared a "bullish cross," suggesting the index could gain in coming sessions.

Oil producers' shares drove Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index to its second straight gain, while Mexico's IPC index remained mostly flat.

Risk assets got a boost after data on Friday showed business sentiment among German companies rose in November and Greece's finance minister said the heavily indebted country was close to securing a critical aid package.

Still, markets remained volatile, with analysts pointing to low trading volumes across the region due to a shortened trading day in the United States following the Thanksgiving holiday.

"The markets are very indecisive," said Álvaro Bandeira, a partner at Órama Investimentos in Rio de Janeiro. "With the U.S. holiday, you lose a lot of liquidity ... the market is pushing everything to next week."

Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index whipsawed in early trading, settling over 1 percent higher by the afternoon.

Shares of OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA, the oil company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, rose 1.7 percent, contributing most to the index's gains, while state-controlled rival Petrobras added 1.5 percent.

Class B preferred shares of electric utility Centrais Elétricas Brasileiras SA, known as Eletrobras, recovered slightly from recent losses, rising 6 percent.

Eletrobras shares plunged in recent sessions on expectation that a plan for hydro dam concession renewal and related power-rate cuts will slash revenue, profit and investment for the years to come. Despite the concerns, Brazil's government has ruled out injecting fresh capital into the company, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

Shares of Gol Linhas Aéreas SA, Brazil's second-largest airline, rose 1.03 percent after the company said on Friday that it will cut as many as 850 jobs and reduce its fleet next year as a result of the closure of its Webjet subsidiary.

Brazil's Bovespa has struggled to remain in positive territory for the year because of investor concerns over heavy government intervention in private-sector enterprises such as telecoms, electricity concessions and banks in recent months.

"Investors are not comfortable positioning themselves in the Bovespa for next year," said Andre Perfeito, chief economist with Gradual Investimentos in Sao Paulo.

"Government intervention in the economy has created a more defensive stance among investors that has hurt the equity market, though the trend has been a bit exaggerated, and next year we should see a slightly better situation."

Mexico's benchmark IPC stock index dipped 0.06 percent, but still remained near a one-month high after clocking its best four-day run since June, with a 3.6 percent gain in the last four days. The index was still on track to post its best week in about five months.

Mexican stocks got a boost as investors turned more optimistic about fiscal negotiations in the United States, Mexico's top trading partner. But stocks could be vulnerable to doubts once talks between lawmakers start up again next week.

"This is going to be a complicated and drawn-out process, and this could create uncertainty in the markets," said Arturo Espinosa, an analyst at Santander in Mexico City.

Shares of billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil fell 0.7 percent. The rally in Mexican stocks this week helped lift America Movil off of a nearly eight-month low.

Shares of plastic pipe maker Mexichem dropped 1.5 percent after the company said on Thursday it was abandoning plans for a joint venture with national oil company Pemex due to continued delays by the state-run giant.

Chile's IPSA index edged lower for the fourth straight session as it headed toward its lowest closing price since early September.

Shares of regional energy group Enersis rose 1.46 percent after the company said late Thursday that it will hold a meeting with shareholders of its Chilean private pension fund to discuss a controversial capital increase.

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