Bloomberg News

Peru Stocks’ Record Plunge on Humala Forces Trading Suspension

June 06, 2011

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Peru’s stock exchange halted trading after the benchmark index plunged a record 12 percent as investors speculated Ollanta Humala will seek more state control of the economy as the nation’s next president.

Mining companies led the Lima General Index lower after Humala, who during the campaign pledged to raise royalties on the industry, claimed victory in yesterday’s election. The currency and bonds also fell. The bourse twice suspended trading today, ending the session three hours early, as Alturas Minerals Corp. and Minera IRL Ltd. dropped more than 20 percent.

Humala’s victory surprised investors after some polls last week showed Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori with a narrow lead and other surveys said the race was tied. While Humala shifted his stance during the campaign to defend policies that made Peru the fastest growing Latin American economy over the past decade, investors remain concerned he will fulfill earlier pledges to boost government control over natural resources.

“The economy isn’t going to be better off if they start making things difficult for foreign investors,” said Kieran Curtis, who helps manage $3.5 billion at Aviva Investors in London, including Peruvian dollar bonds. “Investors are going to want to get rid of policy uncertainty before putting any money to work.”

Today’s trading suspensions were the first since the financial crisis of October 2008, the bourse said in an e-mailed statement that urged the President-elect to quickly name a cabinet so that investors can evaluate his economic team.

Currency, Bonds

The Lima General Index’s 12 percent decline was the most since the gauge was created in 1981, surpassing the 11 percent decline of Oct. 10, 2008, amid the global financial crisis. The sol sank 0.9 percent to 2.7890 per U.S. dollar. Yields on dollar-denominated bonds due 2037 rose 19 basis points, or 0.19 percentage point, to 5.93 percent.

Humala, 48, leader of the Nationalist Party and a one-time ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, had 51.5 percent of votes compared to 48.6 percent for Fujimori with 92 percent of ballots counted.

The cost to protect Peru’s debt from non-payment with credit-default swaps jumped 20 basis points to 167, the highest since April 27, according to data provider CMA in New York. The extra yield investors demand to hold Peru dollar notes instead of U.S. Treasuries climbed 21 basis points to 213, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Alturas Minerals, a Canadian copper and gold exploration company, plunged 24 percent to 13 cents. Minera IRL, a U.K. minerals exporter with a gold mine in Peru, dropped 23 percent to $1. Southern Copper Corp., Peru’s biggest copper producer, fell 9.9 percent to $31.40. Grupo Mexico, the parent company of Southern Copper, tumbled 7.5 percent in Mexico City trading.

Chilean Retailers

Stock of Chilean retailers with operations in Peru also retreated. Ripley Corp SA sank 3 percent in Santiago, while SACI Falabella slid 2.3 percent and Cencosud SA declined 2 percent.

To broaden his appeal to Peru’s growing middle class, Humala abandoned rhetoric against foreign mining and natural resource companies used during the 2006 campaign, when he lost the presidency to Alan Garcia by five percentage points. Humala backed away from earlier pledges to rewrite the constitution and unilaterally raise royalty fees on mining and gas production.

Peru is the world’s top silver producer, third in copper and zinc and sixth in gold. Export revenue from mineral exports rose by 27 percent to a record $21 billion on surging prices.

Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, conceded defeat today and told reporters in Lima she will lead a responsible opposition. Humala said Keiko Fujimori turned a blind eye to the corruption and human rights abuses of her father when she served as first lady during his government from 1990 to 2000.

Waiting for ‘Change’

“The people have been waiting a long time for change,” Humala told thousands of supporters at a midnight rally in downtown Lima. “It’s not possible to say that the country is progressing when 12 million people are living in extreme poverty without electricity or running water.”

Last night, Humala said he would seek broad backing for his policies and form a government comprised of the most-qualified people independent of their political affiliation.

“Peruvian fundamentals are very strong so it will take a while for him to destroy the economy if he wants to go that way,” said Pablo Cisilino, who helps manage $24 billion in emerging market debt including Peruvian bonds at Stone Harbor Investment Partners in New York. “If Peru didn’t have the fundamentals it has, it would be a very different situation. Theoretically one would have time to get out if the policies Humala’s going to pursue are not market friendly.”

Mining Boom

Foreign investors moved money into Peru last year as metal prices surged and the economy grew at the second-fastest pace in 16 years, prompting the central bank to raise borrowing costs to contain inflation.

As an army lieutenant colonel in 2000, Humala led 50 soldiers who seized and occupied for a week one of Southern Cooper’s mines to protest corruption in Fujimori’s government. His brother, Antauro Humala, is in jail for killing four policemen during the takeover of a highland town in 2005.

In the two weeks after Humala topped the field in the first round April 10, sol-denominated bond yields rose to a two-year high and the currency fell to a 10-month low.

--With assistance from Michael Patterson and Abigail Moses in London, Helen Murphy in Lima and Eduardo Thomson in Santiago. Editors: Brendan Walsh, David Papadopoulos

To contact the reporter on this story: John Quigley in Lima at jquigley8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at papadopoulos@bloomberg.net


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