January 17, 2013 / 10:47 PM / 5 years ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks rise, helped by US data

* Brazil central bank holds interest rates at record low
    * Steelmaker CSN drops on potential purchase of mills
    * Bovespa gains 0.66 pct, Mexico IPC up 0.17 pct

    By Asher Levine
    SAO PAULO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks rose on
Thursday after the central bank decided to hold interest rates
at a record low, while Mexican stocks edged up to a record high,
helped by improved U.S. jobs and housing data.
    Banks led Brazil's main index higher, while Mexican lender
Banorte closed at its priciest ever ahead of an earnings report.
    Brazil's central bank held interest rates at 7.25 percent on
Wednesday in an effort to boost growth. While policymakers
acknowledged worsening inflation, they also suggested it was a
short-term blip. 
    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 0.66 percent to 62,194.06 after facing
resistance at 62,000 earlier in the session. It closed at its
highest since Jan. 7.
    Banks led gains in the index, with Itaú Unibanco Holding SA
, Brazil's largest non-government bank, up 1.7 percent
and Banco Bradesco SA rising 1.65 percent.
    Shares of steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional SA
 weighed on the index, falling 3.7 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 4.04
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 3.55 percent after a local
newspaper reported that the firm pulled out of bidding to
acquire GVT SA, the Brazil-based telecommunications unit of
Vivendi SA. 
    Mexico's IPC index rose 0.17 percent to close at an
all-time high of 44,943.34.
     Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for
unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week and U.S.
housing starts jumped last month to the highest since June 2008.
    Mexico sends nearly 80 percent of its exports to its
northern neighbor and solid U.S. demand has helped shield Mexico
from sluggish global growth.
    Bank Banorte added 1.09 points to close at a
record high, climbing nearly 5 percent this week ahead of its
earnings expected after the market close. 
    Shares of conglomerate Mexichem rose 2.42
percent after the board of oil company Pemex approved
a joint venture with the firm. 
    Chile's IPSA index rose 0.35 percent as LATAM
Airlines Group rose 1.07 percent while retailer
Falabella shed 0.87 percent.

    Latin America's key stock indexes at 2213 GMT:
 Stock indexes                    daily %  year-to
                         Latest    change   date %
 MSCI LatAm             3,940.00     0.56     3.74
 Brazil Bovespa        62,194.06     0.66     2.04
 Mexico IPC            44,943.34     0.17     2.83
 Chile IPSA             4,495.06     0.35     4.50
 Chile IGPA            21,889.38     0.29     3.89
 Argentina MerVal       3,168.54      1.1    11.01
 Colombia IGBC         14,723.53    -0.18    16.25
 Peru IGRA             21,761.43    -0.35     5.49
 Venezuela IBC        484,345.06     1.53     2.74

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