Argentina, Brazil boost Latin American stocks
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Major Latin American markets closed higher Friday, with Argentina and Brazil leading the climb following the U.S. equity market's optimism for action by global central banks if needed.
Argentina's Merval index (MERV) was the top gainer Friday, rising 3.8% to close at 2,273.02, lifted by strength in the oil sector. The benchmark index finished the week up 3.4%.
Local shares of YPF (YPFD) (YPF) , Argentina's biggest oil-and-gas company, spiked 9.1% on news that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim bought an 8.4% stake in YPF. Petrobras Argentina (PESA) rose nearly 11%. Read about Slim, YPF.
Chile's IPSA equity index (IPSA) climbed 1% to 4,317.83, though lost 0.7% for the week. On Thursday, Chile's central bank left interest rates unchanged at 5%, as expected. The bank said that domestic growth and inflation stayed close to their current trends.
"The neutral statement is consistent with our forecast of interest rate on hold in the near term," said BNP Paribas analysts in a note.
Mexico's IPC index (IPC) rose 0.8% to 37,738.58, tallying a gain of 1.1% from last Friday's close. Cemex S.A.B de C.V. (CEMEXCPO) climbed 3.8% and was the top gainer. Brewer Grupo Modelo (GMODELOC) fell 4.5%.
Export revenues growth in Latin America has stalled recently, weighing on the region's economic projections, an economist said Friday.
"The rate of growth of export revenues in Latin America has fallen heavily in the past three months," said Michael Henderson, emerging markets economist with Capital Economics, in a research note. "We expect export revenues to come under further pressure in the short-to-medium term as commodity prices fall and external demand stays weak."
Henderson said that China's demand growth would slow from the current rate as the country changes to a more consumption-led growth model. Chile and Peru appear to be exposed more to the effects of a slowdown on Chinese commodity demand, he said.
In the U.S. Friday, the equities market continued to gain on the expectation that global central banks would take action to calm the markets if necessary after the Greek election on Sunday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 0.9% and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) added 1%. See story on U.S. stocks.