Interest Rate Fears Bring Brazil Market Down

Brazilian and Latin American stocks mostly declined, as Brazil’s market fell sharply on interest rate hike fears and inflation concerns. Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa Index tumbled 426.03 points, or 1.74%.

Brazilian equities slumped, as investors faced the prospect of another interest rate hike this week. Traders reported that today’s session showed a continued pattern of withdrawals from stocks by both foreign and domestic investors in favor of fixed-income accounts.

Released on Monday, a weekly central bank survey of financial market analysts predicted that 2005 inflation will reach 5.7%, compared with the government’s target of 5.1% for this year.

Persistent inflationary pressures will probably spur Brazil’s central bank to boost the benchmark Selic interest rate during the bank’s monthly meeting concluding Wednesday. Most analysts expect a hike by 50 basis points to 18.25%.

In economic data, Brazil’s retail sales firmed 6.44% in November year- over-year, adjusted for inflation, versus an advance by 8.5% in October. Over the first 11 months of 2004, inflation-adjusted retails sales climbed 8.98% from the year-ago period.

Brazilian telecom regulator Anatel said that the number of wireless subscribers in Brazil strengthened to 65.6 million last year.

Anatel noted that wireless firms added 4.4 million new subscribers in December and 19.2 million in 2004, establishing fresh monthly and yearly records for new subscriptions.

Turning to corporate news, Embraer announced late Monday that it delivered 42 aircraft in the fourth quarter and 148 aircraft in 2004. The yearly number exceeded the jetmaker’s delivery target by three jets.

Still, that was after Embraer lowered its 2004 outlook to 145 jets from 160 jets in October as major client US Airways Group descended into bankruptcy for the second time in two years.

Thomson Financial Corporate Group



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