EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil stocks choppy with bank and oil shares down
* Petrobras slides for fourth session after fuel price hike * Mining firm Vale pushes up Brazil index * Brazil Bovespa gains 0.19 pct, Mexico IPC down 0.41 pct By Asher Levine and Danielle Assalve SAO PAULO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks were choppy on Thursday as gains by mining firm Vale offset losses by banks and oil producers. Mexico's IPC index eased off record highs for the second straight session and Chile's bourse edged lower. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index rose 0.19 percent to 59,448.02 but is set to close the session with its first monthly loss since October. Preferred shares of iron-ore mining firm Vale SA rose 1.6 percent, contributing most to the index's gains, after Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts raised their recommendation on the firm's U.S.-traded shares to "buy" from "neutral," saying they were "more comfortable with the risk-reward balance." Shares of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, slid for the fourth straight session, losing 0.3 percent. The shares dropped their most in seven months in the previous session after a fuel price rise failed to ease investor concerns about the health of the company's finances. "Petrobras has been dragging along with this question of price adjustments and the market is visibly unhappy with the way this was determined," said Aloisio Villeth Lemos, a broker with Agora Corretora in Rio de Janeiro. Banking shares also weighed on the Bovespa after fourth-quarter profit at Banco Santander Brasil SA disappointed investors on Thursday, with interest income falling to the lowest level in a year, and fee income below expectations. Shares of Banco Santander Brasil fell 1 percent, while state-controlled rival Banco do Brasil dropped 1.65 percent. Brazil's Bovespa index is set to close the session with a monthly decline of more than 2 percent, compared with a rise of more than 5 percent in the S&P 500 index and a 4.5 percent jump in Mexico's IPC index. Fears over government intervention in the economy, energy rationing, mediocre economic growth and high inflation have soured many investors on Brazilian stocks, said Clodoir Vieira, chief economist with brokerage Souza Barros in Sao Paulo. "February will be a very tough month. The outlook will depend heavily on corporate results, but I think it should be better than January," Vieira said. Mexico's IPC index dropped 0.41 percent to 45,567.64 as shares of bottling group Femsa fell 0.67 percent. Shares of telecom Axtel rose 0.28 percent after it said on Wednesday that it has launched pay-television services in an effort to lure clients and boost revenue. Chile's IPSA index slipped 0.15 percent to 4,534.81. Shares of electricity generator Endesa Chile dropped 0.5 percent after the company reported a 47.6 percent drop in 2012 net profit from the year earlier. Latin America's key stock indexes at 1438 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI LatAm 3,920.66 0.15 3.08 Brazil Bovespa 59,448.02 0.19 -2.47 Mexico IPC 45,567.64 -0.41 4.26 Chile IPSA 4,534.81 -0.15 5.43 Chile IGPA 22,096.05 -0.06 4.87 Argentina MerVal 3,462.42 -0.22 21.31 Colombia IGBC 14,985.81 -0.06 1.83 Peru IGRA 21,316.19 0.05 3.33 Venezuela IBC 496,126.16 0.27 5.24
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