Brazil Afraid World Slump Will Lower Price of Commodities It Sells

    Markets were mixed to lower, with Brazilian shares rising on tame local inflation data, while Argentine and Mexican shares fell on continued concerns about rising interest rates in developed countries.

    Brazil’s Bovespa Index rose 173.78, or 0.49%. Mexico’s benchmark Bolsa Index fell 155.80 points, or 0.85%, while Argentina’s Merval Index lost 13.98 points, or 0.86%.

    Brazilian stocks reversed early losses to end higher. Shares were lower in the early going on interest-rate concerns. The Brazilian Central Bank said the international market volatility would force it to take a more cautious stance on interest rates there in the coming months.

    The current wave of U.S. rate increases has stoked fears that the world economy will enter a slump, which analysts said could mean lower commodities prices, and Brazil – a major world supplier of sugar, soybeans and metals  –  would feel the effects on exports and revenues of exporting companies.

    Lending support to the Bovespa, however, Brazil’s IPCA consumer price index showed a greater-than-expected slowdown in May versus April on declining ethanol and food prices. May inflation slowed to 0.10% from 0.21% in April, The Brazilian Census Bureau, or IBGE, said.

    The median estimate was 0.2%, bringing inflation for the 12 months ended in May to 4.23%, from 4.63% in the 12 months ended April, the first 2006 dip below the 4.5% year-end inflation target.

    In other economic news, industrial employment in São Paulo picked up in May, the São Paulo Federation of Industries reported, saying manufacturers added a total of 15,000 jobs, or an increase of 0.7% versus April.

    The figures weren’t seasonally adjusted. Jobs growth was more vigorous when compared with the year-ago month, gaining 3.6% in May compared with May 2005.

    And the Brazilian Central Bank released minutes from its May meeting, which mentioned rising international market volatility as a concern. International investors have been retreating from the Brazilian Stock Exchange, analysts say. For the month of June through Monday, foreign investors made net withdrawals of 76 million Brazilian reais (US$ 33.6 million).

    Elsewhere, Mexican stocks fell on investor anxiety about rising global interest rates. The emerging-markets correction of the past month has pulled the IPC down from a record-high close of 21,823 points on May 9, with the index now up barely 1% from its 2005 close.

    Argentine issues also sank today, as ongoing interest rate hikes continued today in the eurozone, further weighing on exchanges in Latin America.

    Argentina, Brazil and Chile have not yet reached a deal to regulate energy swaps among the three countries, Chile’s Mining and Energy Minister said, according to local newswire Valor Futuro.

    A meeting last week between energy officials led to "a lot of advances, so I think we’ll be ready to reach an accord after one more meeting," said Karen Poniachik. Early last week, Poniachik said the most recent meeting would likely be the last.

    Thomson Financial – www.thomsonfinancial.com

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