Colombia’s benchmark IGBC stock index edged up 0.2% to a new all-time record high of 12,066.36 points Thursday, led by Canada-listed oil firm Pacific Rubiales, which rose 1.26% to COP38,300.
Shares in state-controlled oil firm Ecopetrol were unchanged at COP2,710, after the company’s announcement Wednesday evening that it had won the right to explore for oil and gas at 19 sites in the Gulf of Mexico.
Some investors became disenchanted with Ecopetrol in February after the board proposed a sharp cut in the company’s dividend, and are switching to Pacific Rubiales, said Johanna Castro, an analyst with local brokerage Corredores Asociados.
Ecopetrol’s board is asking its shareholders to approve a dividend of COP91 per share in 2010, down from COP220 in 2009. Ecopetrol shareholders will vote on the dividend on March 25 during the annual general assembly.
Shares in state-controlled power company Isagen rose 1.8% to COP2,275 on optimism that the government will sell its majority stake in the company this year.
“People are hoping that a strategic investor can offer more than the current market price,” said Castro.
The yield on the benchmark peso-denominated bond maturing in 2020 rose to 8.851%, from 8.818% Wednesday. If the government fails to sell its stake in Isagen and is forced to issue an equivalent amount of debt, yields are likely to rise further, said Daniel Lozano, an analyst with local brokerage Profesionales de Bolsa.
“The big question is whether they sell the debt here, or in dollars abroad,” Lozano said.
If the government sells dollar bonds then converts the dollars into Colombian currency, peso could strengthen to COP1,820-COP1,850 against the dollar, said David Duarte, an analyst with New York-based consultancy 4Cast.
On Thursday, the peso closed at COP1,900 against the dollar, from COP1,893.20 Wednesday.