EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil stocks post 6th day of gains, helped by raw materials
By Bruno Federowski and Paula Arend Laier SAO PAULO, March 7 (Reuters) - Brazilian shares on Monday advanced for the sixth straight day as heavyweights Vale and Petrobras gained on stronger raw materials prices, though the market's upward momentum slowed after the previous week's big rallies. Shares of Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, rose to their highest in about four months, supported by a nearly 20 percent jump in spot iron ore prices for delivery to a Chinese port .IO62-CNI=SI. Steelmakers Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA and Companhia Siderurgica Nacional also rose. Traders bet Chinese steel mills could expand output ahead of an international horticultural exposition later this year, when authorities are expected to announce a production cut to reduce air pollution. Higher oil prices also supported shares of state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA after the stock posted its best weekly performance since January 1994. In early afternoon trade, the Sao Paulo stock market Bovespa index was up 1.1 percent, following rallies of over 4.1 percent on Friday and more than 5 percent on Thursday as investors saw a widening corruption probe as increasing the chances that unpopular President Dilma Rousseff could be forced out of government. Many traders believe a change in government could rekindle sentiment towards Brazil and pave the way for an economic recovery. Some point out, however, that short-term political turmoil could make it harder to pass fiscal austerity measures in a gridlocked Congress. The peso currency of Colombia, an oil exporter, strengthened for a sixth day in a row, heading towards its highest since December. Traders remained convinced that the central bank should continue increasing rates despite data showing a slight relief in inflation in February. The Colombian central bank increased in February its benchmark rate by 25 basis points, to 6.25 percent, though a minority of policymakers supported a 50 basis points hike. Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1650 GMT: Stock indexes daily % YTD % Latest change change MSCI Emerging Markets 796.48 0.7 -0.4 MSCI LatAm 2041.32 0.08 11.47 Brazil Bovespa 49480.50 0.81 14.14 Mexico IPC 44995.30 0.33 4.70 Chile IPSA 3855.30 0.44 4.76 Chile IGPA 18877.17 0.43 4.00 Argentina MerVal 13400.27 0.98 14.78 Colombia IGBC 9672.41 0.85 13.16 Venezuela IBC 16609.87 1.79 13.86 Currencies daily % YTD % change change Latest Brazil real 3.7775 -0.47 4.49 Mexico peso 17.7525 0.13 -2.94 Chile peso 679 0.18 4.52 Colombia peso 3125.7 0.87 1.39 Peru sol 3.4601 -0.12 -1.33 Argentina peso (interbank) 15.3700 -1.09 -15.53 Argentina peso (parallel) 15.67 0.32 -8.93 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski and Paula Arend Laier; Editing by W Simon)
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