Brazil Stocks Close Lower as Central Bank Meetings Overhang Markets

Date : 07/31/2012 @ 5:13PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Vale S.A. American Depositary Shares Each Representing One Common Share (VALE)
Quote : 8.47  0.0 (0.00%) @ 6:49AM

Brazil Stocks Close Lower as Central Bank Meetings Overhang Markets

Vale (NYSE:VALE)
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--Investors lock in profits from recent rally ahead of central-bank meetings

--U.S. Federal Reserve, European Central Bank top week's busy monetary agenda

--Ibovespa stock index closes 2.0% lower at 56,097 points

 
   By Jeff Fick 
 

RIO DE JANEIRO--Brazilian blue-chip shares closed lower Tuesday as investors locked in profits ahead of a series of central-bank meetings in Europe and the U.S. after lackluster economic data failed to boost sentiment.

The Ibovespa stock index closed down 2.0% at 56,097 points. Trading volume was moderate to heavy at 6.71 billion Brazilian reais ($3.28 billion). Despite the downturn, the index still held onto a gain of 3.2% for July, the index's first winning month since February.

Investors took profits after the recent rally sparked by comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who said last week he would do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro. While investors took the comment as a sign that political leaders were willing to resolve the EU's ongoing sovereign-debt crisis, now the focus is on results out of the ECB's meeting Thursday. Markets are looking for possible interest-rate cuts or fresh bond purchases to prop up activity in the common-currency bloc.

The U.S. Federal Reserve also ends its two-day meeting Wednesday, with many anxiously awaiting the Fed's statement and signs of a potential new round of asset purchases, also known as "quantitative easing."

Data releases at home and abroad also failed to excite investors. While unemployment in the European Union climbed to a record high in June, home prices in the U.S. rose for a second-consecutive month in May, according to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home-price indexes. U.S. consumer confidence also rose more than expected in July, while personal incomes increased in June.

In Brazil, inflation continued to creep higher as the country's producer price index advanced for a fourth-consecutive month in June. That brought the IPP's rolling 12-month rate to 6.66% as food prices continued climbing, an ominous sign given that food prices are typically tame in Brazil in the period after the fall harvest.

Food prices have advanced as the U.S. drought affects production in the world's largest corn grower. Inflationary pressures in Brazil, meanwhile, could throw a wrench into the Brazilian Central Bank's plans to keep lowering interest rates and spark activity in Latin America's largest economy.

Brazilian blue-chip shares were mostly lower.

Lower international oil prices undercut shares of local petroleum companies, with volume leader Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR, PETR4.BR), or Petrobras, slipping 3.9% to BRL19.50 per share. Independent driller OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes (OGXP3.BR, OGXPY) fell 2.9% to BRL5.65. Natural-gas producer QGEP Participacoes (QGEP3.BR) was 1.9% lower at BRL9.01, while start-up HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA (HRTP3.BR) was down 1.0% to BRL4.98.

Miner Vale SA (VALE, VALE5.BR), the world's largest iron-ore producer and second-largest nickel producer, decreased 0.8% to BRL36.40. Small iron-ore producer MMX Mineracao e Metalicos (MMXM3.BR) lost 4.7% to BRL5.72.

Aircraft maker Embraer (ERJ, EMBR4.BR) added 0.3% to BRL13.14 after company officials said in a conference call that it had revised upward its estimate for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, this year. Embraer expects EBITDA of between $720 million and $840 million this year, compared with a previous estimate of $670 million to $780 million.

Flat steel maker Usiminas (USIM5.BR) led gainers, surging 5.3% to BRL7.38 a share despite posting a second-quarter net loss of BRL87 million, reversing a year-earlier gain. But the loss was attributed primarily to foreign-exchange factors, with the company showing some signs of improvement in other areas. Integrated company Companhia Siderurgica Nacional (SID, CSNA3.BR), or CSN, added 3.3% to BRL10.53, while long steel maker Gerdau (GGB, GGBR4.BR) gained 0.2% to BRL18.62.

Write to Jeff Fick at Jeff.Fick@dowjones.com

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