In Brazil Source of Story on Campaign Money from Cuba Recants and Market Goes Up

Latin American stocks were mixed to higher, with Brazilian shares gaining on lower oil prices and positive developments on the political scandal front.

Mexican issues were also higher, supported by strength in U.S. equities and optimism about the local interest-rate outlook. On the down side, Argentine shares dipped into the red.

Brazil’s Bovespa Index rose points 58.53, or 0.19%. Mexico’s benchmark Bolsa Index jumped 171.90 points, or 1.08%, while Argentina’s Merval Index fell 11.15 points, or 0.70%.

Brazilian stocks edged up, amid lower oil prices and a statement denying allegations of corruption in the governing Workers’ Party.

Helping to ease worries about an ongoing campaign finance scandal, Vladimir Poleto, a former aide to Finance Minister Antonio Palocci, gave a statement to a congressional investigative committee denying the Workers’ Party (PT) accepted money from Cuba’s government to finance its election campaigns.

Brazilian newsmagazine Veja had previously reported that the PT in São Paulo received US$ 3 million from Cuba. Poleto said the story was invented by the magazine and that he was drunk when he talked to the magazine’s reporter.

In other political developments, a Finance Ministry spokesman earlier today denied rumors that Finance Minister Antonio Palocci had plans to resign over criticism by presidential Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff of his economic policy as well as allegations of corruption during his time as mayor of Ribeirão Preto.

On the economic front, Brazil’s statistics institute reported that Brazil’s official IPCA consumer price inflation accelerated to 0.75% in October from 0.35% in September. Economists had expected October inflation of 0.55%. The data fueled concerns that the central bank may have less room to cut interest rates than previously thought.

In earnings news, mining giant CVRD reported late yesterday a third-quarter net profit of 2.711 billion reais, up 18.1% from a year ago, but lower than expectations. The stock fell.

On the bright side, shares of Banco Unibanco jumped after the company said its third-quarter profit rose 45% from a year ago, reaching 475 million reais, slightly higher than estimates.

Elsewhere, Mexican stocks powered higher, helped by gains in the U.S. market amid lower oil prices and largely upbeat economic data.

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose to 79.9 in November from 74.2 in October, topping expectations of 76.2. Also, U.S. import prices fell 0.3% in October.

Mexico’s economic health is tied closely to that of the U.S., since Mexico sends nearly 90% of its exports north of the border.

Mexican shares were also supported by hopes the Bank of Mexico will cut interest rates further following yesterday’s benign inflation data. The October consumer price report showed annual inflation had fallen to a record low of 3.05%. The Bank of Mexico has lowered the overnight rate three times in the past three months, to 9% from 9.75%.

Adding to positive sentiment, Walmex said late yesterday that its same-store sales grew 8.6% in October from a year ago, well above targets.

On a down note, airport operator Asur said that passenger traffic at its airports tumbled 19.8% last month in the wake of Hurricane Wilma.

In other corporate news, Telmex boosted its share buyback fund by 10 billion pesos.

Meanwhile, Argentine issues extended yesterday’s losses. In political developments, Economy Minister Lavagna declared that although an accord with the IMF in 2006 would make managing the economy "easier," it "is not essential."

Helping to limit the market’s decline, Telecom Argentina rose after swinging to a third-quarter net profit from a year-ago loss. In addition, Grupo Financiero climbed after the company also reported a third-quarter net profit that reversed a year-earlier loss.

Thomson Financial Corporate Group – www.thomsonfinancial.com

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