* Gov't says gas prices to increase in 2013
* Brazil Bovespa gains 0.89 pct, Mexico IPC drops 0.41 pct
By Asher Levine and Danielle Assalve
SAO PAULO/MEXICO CITY Dec 19 Brazilian stocks
rose on Wednesday after the government confirmed local fuel
prices at the pump would rise in 2013, boosting shares of
heavily weighted oil firm Petrobras.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa index rose 0.89 percent
to 60,998.34, on track to close the session at its highest level
since late September.
Mexico's IPC index snapped three-day rallies,
however, as investors took profits on a rise to an all-time high
in the previous session.
Brazil Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on Wednesday that
fuel prices, which are controlled by the government to help
manage inflation, will "certainly" rise in 2013.
Preferred shares of state-controlled oil company Petróleo
Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, rose 3.77 percent while
common shares added 3.58 percent.
The company has for years pushed for price increases for
gasoline and diesel because now, to meet growing demand, it is
forced to import some of the fuels at market prices and then
sell them to customers at a loss.
"This improves the outlook for cash flow at an important
moment, considering (Petrobras) has many investments planned for
the coming years," said Illan Besen, an equities specialist at
ICAP in Rio de Janeiro, of the potential for higher fuel prices.
The Bovespa is up more than 6 percent in December, its best
monthly performance since January, as foreign investors return
to Brazilian stocks.
Net foreign investor flows into the Sao Paulo stock market
turned positive for the year on Dec. 17, market operator
BM&FBovespa said on Wednesday, fueled by a rise in risk
Mexico's IPC index lost 0.41 percent to 43,647.99.
Telecommunications firm America Movil, controlled
by billionaire Carlos Slim, fell 0.8 percent, while retailer
Wal-Mart de Mexico slipped 3.23 percent,
contributing most to the index's fall.
Chile's IPSA index traded flat.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 0043 GMT:
Stock indexes % change
MSCI LatAm 3,818.30 1.13
Brazil Bovespa 60,998.34 0.89
Mexico IPC 43,647.99 -0.41
Chile IPSA 4,291.08 0.06
Chile IGPA 20,979.44 0.08
Argentina MerVal 2,843.96 -0.95
Colombia IGBC 14,646.38 0.46
Peru IGRA 20,466.87 0.86
Venezuela IBC 465,312.94 0