* Brazil central bank holds interest rates at record low
* Steelmaker CSN drops on potential purchase of mills
* Bovespa gains 0.55 pct, Mexico IPC up 0.14 pct
By Asher Levine
SAO PAULO, Jan 17 Brazilian stocks advanced on
Thursday after the central bank decided to hold interest rates
at a record low, although a drop in shares of steelmaker CSN
Mexico's IPC index rose for the fourth session in
five, while Chile's IPSA index remained little changed.
Brazil's central bank held interest rates at 7.25 percent on
Wednesday in an effort to boost growth, although it said
inflation pressure could worsen.
The decision was anticipated by investors, said William
Castro Alves, an analyst with XP Investimentos in Rio de
Janeiro. He said the bank "commented on something everyone knew,
which is that inflation is a problem, but that we are going to
continue with the current monetary policy."
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index climbed for a
second day, rising 0.55 percent to 62,125.26 after facing
resistance at 62,000 points earlier in the session.
Banks led gains in the index, with Itaú Unibanco Holding SA
, Brazil's largest non-government bank, up 1.75
percent and Banco Bradesco SA rising 1.33 percent.
Shares of steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional SA
weighed on the index, falling nearly 4 percent on
reports the company is a leading bidder for ThyssenKrupp AG's
money-losing Steel Americas unit.
"I don't think (the bid) makes much sense," Castro Alves
said, adding that the company's reported $3.8 billion offer
could put it in a more precarious financial position.
Oil firm OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA,
controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, fell 2.3
percent after analysts at Credit Suisse Group reinstated
coverage of the company, cutting their recommendation to
"neutral" from a prior "outperform."
Units of BTG Pactual Group, Latin America's
largest investment bank, gained 0.77 percent after a local
newspaper reported that the firm pulled out of bidding to
acquire GVT SA, the Brazil-based telecommunications unit of
Mexico's IPC index rose 0.14 percent to 44,928.80, on
track to close the session at a new record high.
Shares of conglomerate Mexichem rose nearly 2
percent after the board of oil company Pemex approved
a joint venture with the firm.
Grupo Bimbo, the world's largest bread maker,
added 0.24 percent on a report that the firm was a leading
candidate to purchase snack cake brands from U.S.-based Hostess
Chile's IPSA index was little changed at 4,480.06
points as a 0.75 percent loss by retailer Falabella
offset a 0.87 percent gain by conglomerate Copec.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 1534 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD %
Latest change change
MSCI LatAm 3,940.34 0.57 3.17
Brazil Bovespa 62,125.26 0.55 1.92
Mexico IPC 44,928.80 0.14 2.80
Chile IPSA 4,480.06 0.02 4.15
Chile IGPA 21,829.06 0.01 3.60
Argentina MerVal 3,179.98 1.46 11.41
Colombia IGBC 14,743.72 -0.04 0.19
Peru IGRA 21,804.90 -0.15 5.70
Venezuela IBC 480,868.75 0.8 2.00