* Brazil Bovespa falls 1.54 pct, Mexico IPC down 0.44 pct
By Asher Levine
SAO PAULO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks dropped on
Tuesday as shares of state-run oil firm Petrobras sank on
concerns the government would delay approval of a new pricing
policy that could stem losses in the company's refining
Mexico's IPC index added to Monday's losses, while
Chile's bourse fell for the fifth session in six.
Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index fell for the
fourth session in five, losing 1.54 percent to 51,459.75, a
level it has not closed below since Aug. 30.
Preferred shares of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as
Petrobras is formally known, tumbled 4.3 percent, their biggest
daily loss in almost five months, after Finance Minister Guido
Mantega said the government must carefully analyze a potential
fuel price policy that would automatically raise gasoline prices
along with inflation.
The company has been forced to import fuel and sell gasoline
at a loss due to prices that are kept below global market rates
in order to help keep inflation in check.
"People were expecting something to happen on (the pricing
formula) this year," said Ariovaldo Santos, a trader with
H.Commcor in Sao Paulo. "Mantega came out saying it can't be
inflationary or add to indexation of the economy, so now there's
an expectation that perhaps nothing will come of it."
Petrobras is the heaviest-weighted component of the Bovespa
Banking shares helped support the Bovespa, however, as an
index of financial stocks snapped a four-session slump.
Bank shares had suffered in recent sessions on concern over
an impending Supreme Court ruling in a long-standing lawsuit
involving the country's biggest lenders.
The lenders have been accused of failing to remunerate
account holders properly during the inflation-fighting monetary
plans implemented during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The
sector could be forced to pay as much as 150 billion reais
($65.2 billion) in compensation.
"All the banks improved today because it looks less likely
that a decision will come out this year," added Santos, citing
heavy lobbying from government officials aiming to delay the
ruling due to the deleterious effects it could have on Brazil's
Mexico's IPC index fell for the second straight session,
losing 0.44 percent to 40,766.32.
Bottling firm Femsa dropped 1.5 percent, while
mining firm Grupo Mexico slipped 0.85 percent.
Chile's IPSA index lost 0.76 percent to 3,689.63, a level it
has not closed below since early September.
Retailer Falabella fell 1.8 percent, while rival
Cencosud lost 2.05 percent.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 1540 GMT:
Stock indexes daily % YTD % change
MSCI LatAm 3,237.99 -1.31 -13.61
Brazil Bovespa 51,459.75 -1.54 -15.57
Mexico IPC 40,766.32 -0.44 -6.73
Chile IPSA 3,689.63 -0.76 -14.22
Chile IGPA 18,268.86 -0.37 -13.30
Argentina MerVal 5,757.20 4.11 101.70
Colombia IGBC 13,161.24 -0.49 -10.56
Peru IGRA 15,015.14 -0.12 -27.21
Venezuela IBC 2,467,876.18 -0.79 423.48