* Brazil economic activity drops, suggests growth still weak
* U.S. retail sales fall unexpectedly in March
* Brazil Bovespa loses 1.1 pct, Mexico IPC down 0.61 pct
By Asher Levine
SAO PAULO, April 12 Brazilian stocks fell on
Friday after data showed domestic economic activity remains
lackluster, while an unexpected drop in U.S. retail sales
weighed on Mexico's bourse.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index fell for the
second straight session, losing 1.1 percent to 54,789.33. The
index is on track to close the session with a 0.6 percent weekly
loss, its second in a row.
Shares opened lower after central bank data showed economic
activity in Brazil fell in February, adding to concerns that a
recovery in Latin America's largest economy remains tenuous.
"While the U.S. has mostly recovered from its crisis our
economy here isn't moving forward. That is being reflected in
the recent performance of the Bovespa," said Guilherme Sand, a
partner with Zenith Asset Management in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Analysts said the expiration of index futures options next
Wednesday would likely keep the Bovespa rangebound between
54,000 and 56,000 points.
Shares of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA
, known as Petrobras, fell 1.7 percent, contributing
most to the index's fall, while shares of Itaú Unibanco Holding
SA, Brazil's largest non-government bank, dropped 1.8
OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA, the oil
company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, swung
widely through early trading but eventually settled into
OGX shares have fallen for ten straight sessions and are
down 67 percent this year alone, due to concerns over
weaker-than-expected output and the potential need for more
"The market is seeing this as a very risky stock, as it has
become very volatile," Sand added. "Any early gains we saw today
were not because the worries about the company are changing,
it's just people trying to make money off the short term."
Mexico's IPC index snapped a four-day rally, losing
0.61 percent to 44,136.65, though it is still on track to post a
1.9 percent weekly gain.
The fall was accentuated by data showing retail sales in the
United States, by far the biggest purchaser of Mexico-produced
goods, contracted in March for the second time in three months.
Shares of mining firm Grupo Mexico fell 2
percent, while those of cement manufacturer Cemex
lost 0.5 percent.
Chile's IPSA index fell 0.19 percent to 4,332.55 as
shares of retailer Falabella dropped 0.5 percent.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 1443 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD %
Latest change change
MSCI LatAm 3,813.58 -1.06 1.49
Brazil Bovespa 54,789.33 -1.1 -10.11
Mexico IPC 44,136.65 -0.61 0.99
Chile IPSA 4,332.55 -0.19 0.72
Chile IGPA 21,276.94 -0.15 0.98
Argentina MerVal 3,446.59 -1.17 20.75
Colombia IGBC 13,808.97 -0.22 -6.16
Peru IGRA 19,297.36 -0.85 -6.46
Venezuela IBC 636,802.13 0.01 35.08