Post-Holiday Season Brings Smooth Upswing to Brazil Market

Latin American stocks were mixed, with Brazilian stocks taking the lead with gains. Meanwhile, Mexican shares also climbed amid light news events, while the Argentinean market dragged. Also of note, U.S. equities were also lower, in quiet post-holiday trading.

Brazil’s Bovespa Index gained 73.21 points, or 0.22%. Mexico’s benchmark Bolsa Index rose 55.76 points, or 0.31%, while Argentina’s Merval Index fell 17.88 points, 1.15%.

Brazilian stocks gained, amid ongoing optimism about the economy. In economic data, the Getúlio Vargas Foundation reported that Brazilian consumer confidence rose to 103.6 in December from 103.0 in the previous month.

On the corporate front, Companhia de Bebidas das Américas, or Ambev, gained on news that Belgian parent company Inbev named one of Ambev’s top executives, Carlos Alves de Brito, as its new CEO.

Separately, aluminum producer Companhia Brasileira de Alumí­nio unveiled plans to invest US$ 800 million over the next four years in order to boost output to 600,000 metric tons a year.

The Mexican exchange traded higher, thanks to strength in retailers and consumer goods firms, amid the holiday spending season. Otherwise, there were little corporate developments, and activity remained muted due to the holiday season.

Of note, however, construction firm ICA was active to the upside on news that U.S.-based Pulte Homes sold its Mexican operations to a group of investors led by affiliates of Walton Street Capital. Some analysts had expected the asset to go to ICA.

Argentine trading was mixed, due in part to profit-taking, after several positive sessions. In economic news, Argentina’s construction index gained in November showing a 22.3% year-on-year gain. The monthly increase was 0.3%.

In energy, Transener plans to add some 9,500 kilometers in new high tension power lines to its current network of 18,000 kilometers by the year 2010. The company also plans to increase its transformer.

Ending with Chile, unionized contract workers at Corporacion Nacional del Cobre de Chile said they will strike and try to stop other employees from working, a union leader stated. About 20,000 of the company’s 28,000 contract workers are expected to join the strike as the union seeks an extra bonus of 500,000 pesos per worker given recent sky-high copper prices.

Thomson Financial Corporate Group – www.thomsonfinancial.com

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