* U.S. new unemployment claims fall more than expected
* Leadership change underway in key trade partner China
* Brazil Bovespa up 0.45 pct, Mexico IPC flat
By Asher Levine and Danielle Assalve
SAO PAULO, Nov 8 Latin American stocks rose on
Thursday after Greece's government approved austerity measures
crucial to unlocking an aid package and data showed an
improvement in the U.S. labor market.
The MSCI Latin American stock index rose for
a second session, adding 0.24 percent to 3,665.58.
Steelmakers and banks helped support Brazil's benchmark
Bovespa index, while bottling group Femsa
drove gains in Mexico's bourse.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits fell more than expected last week, U.S. Labor
Department data showed on Thursday, fueling investor confidence
over a recovery in the world's No. 1 economy.
Some concerns over the euro zone debt crisis were also
relieved after Greece's parliament approved a controversial
austerity package on Thursday needed to unlock international aid
and avert bankruptcy.
"Positive labor market data in the United States helped
boost the market and the Greek austerity package was a positive
signal," said Gabriel Ribeiro, an analyst with Um Investimentos
in Sao Paulo, adding that investors would continue to watch the
Greece situation as the details get ironed out.
Investor attention also turned to China, where the
government has begun a once-in-a-decade leadership change that
could yield eventual shifts in economic policy.
China is Brazil's biggest trading partner and a key
purchaser of Latin American commodities exports such as
iron-one, soy, copper and petroleum.
"The key issue is whether the next leadership will pursue
reforms to rebalance the economy towards consumption and away
from investment," said Neil Shearing, Chief Emerging Markets
Economist with Capital Economics in London. "Investment is very
commodity-intensive and that's what really spurred Brazilian
exports to China."
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index recovered
from early losses, rising 0.45 percent to 58,778.63 after
finding support at its 75-day simple moving average.
"If the Bovespa loses steam and crosses below 58,400 it will
head for 56,800," warned Fabio Cardoso, a partner at Adinvest in
Rio de Janeiro. "In the short term there are no big drivers and
little inflow so there's no real reason for big gains."
Steelmaker Usiminas gained 2.9 percent,
contributing most to the index's gains, while Itaú Unibanco
, Brazil's largest non-government bank, added 0.72
Grupo Cosan SA, Brazil's largest sugar and
ethanol producer, gained 3.1 percent after posting a jump in
quarterly income from the same period last year.
Shares of state-controlled lender Banco do Brasil SA
slipped 1.5 percent after the nation's largest bank
said Thursday that third quarter profit sank as provisions for
bad loans rose and interest income fell.
Mexico's IPC index hovered near unchanged territory, with a
1 percent gain by bottling group Femsa helping offset a 0.9
percent loss by telecommunications firm America Movil.
Chile's IPSA index lost 0.12 percent to 4,251.36, as
conglomerate AntarChile slipped 1.3 percent.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 1445 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD %
Latest change change
MSCI LatAm 3,665.58 0.24 1.51
Brazil Bovespa 58,778.63 0.45 3.57
Mexico IPC 41,042.08 0.08 10.69
Chile IPSA 4,251.36 -0.12 1.77
Chile IGPA 20,857.63 -0.09 3.62
Argentina MerVal 2,377.12 0.29 -3.47
Colombia IGBC 13,938.93 -0.22 10.05
Peru IGRA 20,917.30 0.15 7.42
Venezuela IBC 363,575.72 0 210.65