* Brazil tax authority fines MMX, Natura
* Energy rationing fears push electric utilities lower
* Brazil Bovespa falls 0.48 pct, Mexico IPC flat
By Asher Levine and Danielle Assalve
SAO PAULO, Jan 8 Brazilian stocks fell on
Tuesday as continued worries over energy rationing dragged down
shares of electric utilities and potential tax fines weighed on
shares of MMX and Natura.
Chile's bourse fell for the first session in six,
while Mexico's IPC index was little changed.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index fell for the
third straight session, losing 0.48 percent to 61,634.17 points.
"Investors are being cautious before the fourth-quarter
earnings season begins," said Luiz Roberto Monteiro, a broker at
Renascenca Corretora in Sao Paulo.
Shares of mining firm MMX Mineração e Metalicos SA
, controlled by billionaire Eike Batista, fell 3.15
percent after the company said on Tuesday that it faces a
potential fine of 3.758 billion reais ($1.857 billion) for
overdue income taxes.
"They are certainly going to appeal, but a fine of this size
would hurt cash flow quite a bit, meaning either they would have
to look for new capital or Eike (Batista) will have to inject
more money," said Fabio Goncalves, an analyst with Banrisul
Corretora in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Batista has been known to increase his stake in his own
companies, last year purchasing an additional 3 percent of MMX
and offering to buy $1 billion in stock of his oil company OGX
An index of electric utility shares continued to
slide the day after posting its biggest loss in nearly four
months over concerns that low water levels in reservoirs could
lead to energy rationing.
While Energy Minister Edison Lobao said late on Monday that
he saw no chance of energy rationing in Brazil this year, shares
of utilities such as Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA
and Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais
fell 5 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, on Tuesday.
"The electric sector is still on the same path as yesterday
because water levels in the Northeast are low and the market
isn't believing what the government is saying about this," added
Shares of Brazil's No. 1 cosmetics maker Natura Cosmeticos
SA fell nearly 4 percent after the company said it
received two notices from Brazil's tax watchdog late on Monday
challenging tax practices at the firm.
The company is unlikely to provision for the potential tax
payment and may only take charges related to lawyers' fees,
Mexico's IPC index was little changed at 44,599.05
points as a 0.6 percent loss by retail giant Wal-Mart de Mexico
partially offset a 1.23 percent gain by supermarket
Chile's IPSA index snapped a five-day rally, losing
0.32 percent to 4,384.63.
Retailer Falabella lost 0.89 percent, contributing
most to the index's losses, while lender Banco de Chile
fell 0.66 percent.