Latin America Stock Markets Rally

The Associated Press
Thursday, July 6, 2006; 7:32 PM

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican markets rallied Thursday as electoral authorities said conservative candidate Felipe Calderon had won an official vote tally from Sunday's presidential election, while Brazilian and Argentine stocks also closed higher.

The stock market's IPC index of 35 most traded issues rose 2.7 percent, or 533 points, to 20,047.62 points.

Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute said Thursday that with 100 percent of votes counted, Calderon of the ruling National Action Party had 35.9 percent, compared with 35.3 percent for Lopez Obrador of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party.

The market has seesawed this week in the wake of the election, rallying Monday and Tuesday as preliminary results showed Calderon winning by a thin margin. It then fell 4 percent Wednesday as the official tally initially showed Lopez Obrador ahead.

Mexico's peso bounced back from a steep decline the previous session to close at 11.0580 to the dollar, compared with 11.0980 at the open and Wednesday's 11.2250 close.

Lopez Obrador said Thursday that he will challenge the vote results at the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which has until Sept. 6 to declare a winner _ raising the prospect of up to two months of uncertainty and possible street protests.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil's benchmark Ibovespa index closed up 0.4 percent at 36,533 points, after reaching an intraday high of 36,992 earlier in the session as international market volatility eased.

Traders said investors turned cautious and trimmed gains ahead of the release of U.S. payroll data scheduled for Friday.

The Brazilian real ended the day at 2.184 to the dollar, compared with Wednesday's close at 2.199.

Argentina's benchmark Merval Index rose 0.83 percent to 1,714.42 points, while the broader General Index gained 0.82 percent to reach 82,058.39 points, after data indicating a U.S. economic slowdown in the economy sparked hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve will stop raising rates soon.

Chile's Ipsa index closed down 0.1 percent at 2,123.55, with investors taking profits on selected shares as the market gears up for next week's monetary-policy meeting.

© 2006 The Associated Press