* U.S. Congress averts 'fiscal cliff'
* Commodity stocks lifted by appetite for riskier assets
* Brazil Bovespa up 2.62 pct, Mexico IPC gains 1.37 pct
By Asher Levine
SAO PAULO/MEXICO CITY Jan 2 Latin American
stocks rocketed on Wednesday after U.S. lawmakers voted to avoid
the "fiscal cliff" of steep tax hikes and spending cuts that
threatened to throw the world's largest economy into recession.
Shares of the most widely traded commodities firms drove
Brazil's Bovespa to its biggest daily gain in more than 3
months, while Mexico's IPC index closed at a record high.
Shares rose after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a
bill late Tuesday that will raise taxes on the wealthy but
preserve tax cuts for middle class Americans. The compromise
relieved investor concerns over an impasse that could have
weighed heavily on global economic growth.
While many traders had already factored an agreement into
their expectations, and others warned that Wednesday's rally may
be short-lived because of further wrangling over the U.S. budget
in coming months, the deal signaled an appetite for the riskier
commodity assets that swell the Bovespa's ranks.
"The market, up to a point, expected it," said Luiz Gustavo
Pereira, a strategist at Futura Corretora in Sao Paulo of the
agreement. "But the positive effect on commodities and the
uptick of some PMIs has led to investors taking a little more
Brazil's Bovespa index rose 2.62 percent to 62,550.10, the
biggest one-day gain in more than three months, to close at its
highest level since April last year.
Preferred shares of iron-ore mining firm Vale SA
rose more than 4 percent, driving the index, while fellow oil
company OGX climbed 8.68 percent.
The high liquidity of both shares make them favorites among
foreign investors looking for exposure to Brazilian equities and
they tend to rise or fall in line with global risk appetite.
Shares of homebuilder MRV Engenharia e Participaçoes SA
fell 2.75 percent after the company said an
affiliated company was on a government list of firms subjecting
employees to slave-like working conditions.
Mexico's IPC index jumped 1.37 percent to 44,304.17
points, a record high.
Shares of banking group Banorte rose 3.94
percent, contributing most to the index's gains. Shares in the
well-regarded bank almost doubled in price last year.
Mexico's new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, was quick to
praise U.S. lawmakers on reaching the agreement.
"Mexico celebrates the U.S. Congress' deal, which
undoubtedly defers or puts to one side what was a very real risk
to our country's economy," he said.
Chile's IPSA index ended the day at its highest
levels since last July, rising 1.11 percent to 4,349.05.
Retailers boosted the index, with Falabella adding
1.29 percent and Cencosud gaining 2.3 percent.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 2139 GMT:
Stock indexes % change
MSCI LatAm 3,891.54 2.47
Brazil Bovespa 62,550.10 2.62
Mexico IPC 44,304.17 1.37
Chile IPSA 4,349.05 1.11
Chile IGPA 21,253.09 0.87
Argentina MerVal 2,952.87 3.45
Colombia IGBC 14,715.68 0.00
Peru IGRA 21,016.02 1.87
Venezuela IBC 471,444.53 0