EMERGING MARKETS-Brazil stocks up, utilities drag; Mexico jumps
* Stronger China factory sentiment supports Brazil
* Argentine stocks hit six-month low on default jitters
* Bovespa rises 0.35 pct, Mexico IPC up 0.87 pct (New throughout)
By Michael O'Boyle
MEXICO CITY, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Brazilian stocks rose on Thursday as factory data in China raised hopes that an economic slowdown has hit bottom in Brazil's biggest trading partner, while Mexican equities jumped toward a record high.
Brazil's Bovespa index rose 0.35 percent while volume fell to its lowest in a month, with U.S. markets closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"It's a climate of stagnation, which should continue tomorrow as well," said Aloisio Lemos, an analyst with brokerage Agora in Rio de Janeiro.
Stocks in Argentina sank to a six-month low after a U.S. judge ordered Buenos Aires to pay bondholders who shunned previous swaps of defaulted debt. The ruling raised fears that the South American country could be headed for another default.
Chinese factory sentiment in November pointed to growth for the first time in 13 months, which could boost demand for Latin American commodities such as iron, soy and oil.
But despite the rise in the Bovespa, the index is near a more than three-month low, and chart watchers said stocks could fall more.
Confidence in Latin America's top economy has been hit by signs that an economic recovery is flagging and fears that government meddling in controlled prices will hit utilities.
Shares of electricity generator Eletrobras fell 8.47 percent, following a record one-day drop on Wednesday. The stock has tumbled about 50 percent since October on expectations the government will force it to cut electricity rates.
"Any change in regulation is going to bring about uncertainty and when in doubt, investors run. We are seeing a herd effect," said Hamilton Alves, a senior analyst with BB Investimentos in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Eletrobras pared losses after the head of Brazil's state-run energy research group EPE said the government would not let the company "perish".
Uncertainty over government intervention hit other companies that rely on concession contracts, with shares of highway operator CCR down 1.53 percent.
Shares of Cetip, Brazil's largest securities clearinghouse, fell 4.58 percent after the company said on Wednesday its top executive will leave once his contract expires in July 2013.
Mexico's benchmark IPC rose 0.87 percent as it clocked its best four-day run since June with a 3.6 percent gain, rebounding off its lowest since September.
Top retailer Wal-Mart de Mexico rose 1.67 percent to its highest since April, when news emerged that U.S. prosecutors were investigating charges it bribed officials to open stores more rapidly in Mexico.
"Those concerns are fading as we get to the high-volume buying season," said Roberto Galvan, a strategist at brokerage Actinver in Mexico City, noting the stock got a lift from a long weekend this month in which sales drove a spike in retail traffic.
A technical momentum indicator known as the MACD posted a "bullish cross", suggesting Mexico's IPC index could extend its rally further in coming sessions.
Mexican stocks have received a boost as investors turned more optimistic on fiscal negotiations in the United States, Mexico's top trading partner. Stronger-than-expected U.S. demand has supported Mexico in a wider global slowdown. The IPC is trading less than 2 percent off a record high hit in October.
Latin America's key stock indexes at 2240 GMT: Stock indexes daily year-t
Latest change %
change MSCI LatAm 3,564.52 0.49 -1.05
Brazil Bovespa 56,436.97 0.35 -0.56
Mexico IPC 42,032.35 0.87 13.36
Chile IPSA 4,139.68 -0.14 -0.91
Chile IGPA 20,356.00 -0.26 1.12
Argentina MerVal 2,242.40 -3.33 -8.94
Colombia IGBC 14,190.01 -0.02 12.03
Peru IGRA 20,039.84 -0.31 2.91
Venezuela IBC 386,233.2 0.61 230.01
(Additional reporting by Asher Levine and Danielle Assalve in Sao Paulo; Editing by Dale Hudson)
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