* Itau rises on better outlook for handling bad-loans
* Petrobras falls on debt, dividend changes, cost concerns
* Brazil Bovespa flat, Mexico IPC down 0.23 pct
By Asher Levine and Danielle Assalve
SAO PAULO, Feb 5 Brazilian stocks were
little-changed on Tuesday as a rise in banking shares offset
losses by state-controlled oil firm Petrobras.
Mexico's IPC index fell for the third session in
four, while Chile's bourse remained flat.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index hovered near
Monday's closing level of 59,563.19 points after spending most
of the morning in slightly positive territory.
Shares of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Brazil's
second-biggest lender, rose over 2 percent after the company
reported a fall in loan delinquencies on Tuesday and released a
better-than-expected outlook for bad-loan provisions for 2013.
Shares of rival lenders also rose, with state-controlled
Banco do Brasil SA rising 1.64 percent and Banco
Bradesco SA up 0.1 percent.
Gains in the index were limited by preferred shares of
state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA,
known as Petrobras. The shares fell 1.3 percent after the
company's fourth-quarter earnings result fanned concerns over
management's ability to turn the firm around.
Petrobras common shares plummeted 6.3 percent
after the firm said it would start paying less in dividends for
common shares than preferred shares, changing a policy of equal
dividend payments that had been in place for several years.
The move was carried out as a way to save cash, Petrobras'
Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said in a conference call
"The market is still very cautious when it comes to
Petrobras," said Joao Pedro Brugger, an analyst with Leme
Investimentos in Florianopolis, Brazil. "(Investors) think the
company is still going to be serving the government's interests
first before the shareholders, so we don't see any major changes
coming anytime soon."
Airline Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes SA edged
0.1 percent lower after the company said late on Monday that it
will take a 140 million reais ($70.6 million) one-off charge for
non-recurring expenses in its fourth-quarter results, related to
the shutdown of its Webjet unit.
Mexico's IPC index fell 0.23 percent to 45,663.43, as
shares of telecommunications firm America Movil,
controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, dropped 1.9 percent.
Chile's IPSA index remained little changed, as a 1.5
percent loss by retailer Cencosud offset a 0.8 percent
gain in rival Falabella.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 1449 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD %
Latest change change
MSCI LatAm 3,936.04 -0.05 3.69
Brazil Bovespa 59,563.19 -0.02 -2.28
Mexico IPC 45,663.43 -0.23 4.48
Chile IPSA 4,561.17 -0.02 6.04
Chile IGPA 22,186.73 -0.02 5.30
Argentina MerVal 3,383.51 -1.31 18.54
Colombia IGBC 15,171.42 0.23 3.10
Peru IGRA 21,674.89 0.15 5.07
Venezuela IBC 499,403.63 1.07 5.93