November 27, 2019 / 8:10 AM / 17 days ago

POLL-Brazilian stocks to rise in 2020 after 2019's Latin American turmoil

* cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=stock-index-poll poll data

By Gabriela Mello

SAO PAULO, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Brazilian equities are expected to shine amid a fog of political and economic uncertainty in Latin America next year, outperforming regional peers due to record-low interest rates and a pending lineup of market-friendly economic reforms.

The latest Reuters quarterly poll shows Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index extending this year’s rally to end 2020 at 130,000 points, according to the median of 18 forecasts from traders, brokers and economists.

That is unchanged from the August survey, but higher than 125,000 predicted in May, when a radical overhaul of Brazil’s costly social security system still hung in the balance.

If confirmed, it would mark a 16% rise from the 112,000 level where respondents now expect it to end this year, bringing Bovespa’s rally to about 200% from 43,500 at the end of 2015.

With double-digit upside next year, Brazil should stand out in Latin America after street protests in Chile, the resignation of Bolivian president Evo Morales and the election of a Peronist government in Argentina weigh on investor sentiment elsewhere this year.

Mexico is expected to post gains of around 8% next year, but should stay in the shadow of Brazil, where stocks will enjoy the orthodox economic agenda of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and interest rates at all-time lows, the poll showed.

After delivering on his main economic proposal - a sweeping pension overhaul to generate savings of around 800 billion reais ($192 billion) over the next decade - Bolsonaro is now pursuing other reforms to reduce the size of the state, privatize state firms and encourage investment and growth.

“Brazil is one of the few countries going through such a huge structural change, which should allow us to stand out from others, particularly in the second half of 2020,” said Luiz Ribeiro, a portfolio manager at Deutsche Bank’s DWS.

Lucas Tambellini, strategist at Itaú BBA, also said optimism in Brazil’s equities market is rising, with local investors looking for higher returns as the central bank pushes interest rates lower in the fixed income market.

Both analysts said external factors, including a global economic slowdown and U.S.-China trade dispute, are the main risks for a sustained stocks rally in Brazil and the region, although many expect U.S. President Donald Trump to de-escalate trade tensions before he attempts re-election next year.

Brazil should be more resilient to these external headwinds than Mexico, which has far closer economic and financial ties to the United States, according to Adeodato Netto, chief strategist at Eleven Financial.

“Mexico has more room to stimulate its economy by lowering interest rates, but it will be a bumpier road in 2020,” he said.

The median estimate in the Nov. 11-25 Reuters poll for Mexico’s benchmark S&P/BVM IPC index at the end of 2019 was lowered to 44,500 points, according to the median of 13 respondents, compared with 45,500 in the previous poll.

That would represent a rise of almost 7% in 2019, partially recouping losses of 15.6% in 2018. Forecasters saw Mexico’s IPC index rising another 7.9% over next year to 48,000.

“Mexico is in the end of its economic cycle and has a more populist government,” said Luis Sales, an analyst at Guide, adding that investors still fear Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador could turn his back on fiscal responsibility.

(Other stories from the Reuters global stock markets poll package:)

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever in Brasilia, Miguel Gutierrez in Mexico City and Gabriel Burin in Buenos Aires; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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