EMERGING MARKETS-Petrobras drives Bovespa higher; Mexico flat
* Petrobras jumps over 5 pct as earnings beat estimates * Shares of BB Seguridade, Smiles debut on Sao Paulo exchange * Mexico flat as troubled homebuilders weigh By Walter Brandimarte RIO DE JANEIRO, April 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks firmed on Monday as oil firm Petrobras jumped more than 5 percent on better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, but Mexico's troubled homebuilder sector continued to weigh on its IPC index. 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 the same period a year ago, but still managed to beat analysts' expectations. "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 5.5 percent, while ordinary stocks rose 6.21 percent, contributing the most to lift the benchmark Bovespa index by 1.17 percent to 54,887.25 points. Shares of frequent-flyer program operator Smiles jumped more than 5 percent at its debut on the Sao Paulo exchange after an initial public offering which yielded 560 million reais for its main shareholder Gol airline. Shares of BB Seguridade, on the other hand, closed down 2.35 percent. The insurance unit of state-controlled Banco do Brasil concluded the world's largest IPO in seven months last week. Shares of OGX Petroleo e Gas Participações SA, the oil company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, rose more than 18 percent. OGX shares have plunged more than 50 percent this year on concerns over missed production targets and the potential need for more capital. Mexico's benchmark IPC index traded flat at 41,910.53 points. However, it was another rough session for Mexico's troubled homebuilders, which have been struggling under a heavy debt load and weak sales. Urbi, which posted a first-quarter loss last week, fell 12.31 percent, while Homex dropped 3.02 percent. Geo, which Standard & Poor's said on Monday would likely default on its debt obligations, lost 1.16 percent. Chile's IPSA index fell 0.55 percent to 4,257.95 points, as retailer Falabella dropped 1.18 percent. Latin America's key stock indexes at 2131 GMT: Stock indexes % change Latest MSCI LatAm 3,723.80 0.69 Brazil Bovespa 54,887.25 1.17 Mexico IPC 41,910.53 0.03 Chile IPSA 4,257.95 -0.55 Chile IGPA 20,942.42 -0.48 Argentina MerVal 3,814.72 2.15 Colombia IGBC 13,457.44 0.21 Peru IGRA 17,822.09 0.18 Venezuela IBC 653,757.50 0.36
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