EMERGING MARKETS-Petrobras drives Bovespa higher, Mexico bourse drops
* Petrobras jumps around 5 pct as earnings beat estimates * Shares of BB Seguridade, Smiles debut on Sao Paulo exchange * Cemex drives Mexican bourse lower By Walter Brandimarte RIO DE JANEIRO, April 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks firmed on Monday as oil firm Petrobras jumped over 5 percent on better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, but a 2.5 percent drop in shares of cement maker Cemex weighed on the Mexican bourse. The Brazilian state-controlled oil company, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA, on Friday announced first-quarter earnings that were 17 percent below those of same period a year ago, but still managed to beat analysts' expectations. Some analysts saw in the first quarter an "inflection point" in Petrobras's earnings performance, which has been plagued in the past several quarters by falling oil output and fuel subsidies. "We believe the programs to cut costs and increase productivity, as well as record refinery production, may have a positive impact in the next quarterly results," BB Investimentos' analysts Andrea Aznar and Carolina Felsch wrote in a research note. Petrobras preferred shares gained 5.4 percent, while ordinary stocks rose 6.7 percent, contributing the most lift the benchmark Bovespa index by 1.5 percent. Shares of frequent-flyer program operator Smiles jumped over 10 percent at its debut on the Sao Paulo exchange after an initial public offering which yielded 560 million reais to its controller Gol airline. Shares of BB Seguridade, on the other hand, began trading at the BM&FBovespa with losses of about 2 percent. The insurance unit of state-controlled Banco do Brasil concluded last week the world's largest IPO in seven months. Mexico's benchmark IPC index dropped 0.3 percent, on track to close at its lowest level in nearly five months. Weighing the most on the index were shares of cement maker Cemex , which slid about 2.5 percent as investors continued to digest an increase in the company's first-quarter loss. On Friday, when Cemex announced its results, shares closed higher as the company's executives reassured analysts that they were raising cement prices in many markets and that they were upbeat on infrastructure and housing projects in Mexico. Other first-quarter earnings reports also left investors not too excited about the Mexican market. "As we close the earnings season, we see little positive news. Instead, there were a series of reports that left a lot to be desired," Carlos Hermosillo, an analyst with Grupo Financiero Banorte, wrote in a research note. Latin America's key stock indexes at 1745 GMT: Stock indexes Daily YTD pct Latest pct change change MSCI LatAm 3,723.43 0.68 -2.62 Brazil Bovespa 55,059.61 1.49 -9.67 Mexico IPC 41,773.45 -0.29 -4.42 Chile IPSA 4,259.54 -0.51 -0.97 Chile IGPA 20,949.47 -0.44 -0.57 Argentina MerVal 3,812.36 2.09 33.57 Colombia IGBC 13,425.58 -0.02 -8.77 Peru IGRA 17,844.70 0.31 -13.50 Venezuela IBC 653,757.50 0.36 38.67
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