EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks dip but still track strong week

* Mexican stocks hits resistance near 50-day sma

* Chile stocks fall back at 200-day sma

* Brazil’s Bovespa up 0.58 pct, Mexico’s IPC off 0.25 pct

(Updates to afternoon)

By Brad Haynes and Michael O’Boyle

SANTIAGO/MEXICO CITY, March 25 (Reuters) – Latin American
stocks slipped on Friday as investors booked some of the week’s
strong gains, but a key gauge of the region’s equities was
still on track to post its best week since November.

The MSCI Latin American stocks index (.MILA00000PUS: Quote, Profile, Research)
slipped 0.08 percent after a six-session rally.

Mexican and Chilean stocks were pulling back but were still
on track to post their their biggest weekly gains since 2009
after Chile’s index surged around 6 percent and Mexico’s IPC
rose around 4 percent.

“We are seeing some profit taking after having such a fast
rise this week,” said Gerardo Copca, a strategist at
consultancy MetAnalisis in Mexico. “But prices still are pretty
punished, and U.S. data, which should be solid next week,
should help.”

Investors returned to riskier assets after a slew of
discouraging news so far this year, from natural and nuclear
crises in Japan to violence in the oil-rich Middle East and
North Africa.

Mexico’s IPC index (.MXX: Quote, Profile, Research) gave up 0.25 percent in the
afternoon, finding resistance around 36,900, below its 50-day
simple moving average.

Leading losses in Mexico City were shares of leading
retailer Walmex (WALMEXV.MX: Quote, Profile, Research), down 1.14 percent. Mining company
Grupo Mexico (GMEXICOB.MX: Quote, Profile, Research) lost 1.26 percent.

Santander cut its recommendation on Grupo Mexico to “hold”
from “buy,” noting the company had cut its 2011 copper
production guidance by 7 percent.

Santander is also expecting higher energy costs to crimp
economic growth and slow copper demand.

Chile’s IPSA index (.IPSA: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 0.39 percent in the
afternoon after hitting resistance at its 200-day simple moving
average. It failed to break that level earlier this month and
then saw a 7.5 percent slide.

“The IPSA had fallen so far that this week saw interest in
some very attractive prices,” said Raul Barros, senior analyst
at BBVA Chile. “The stocks getting hit the hardest are the ones
that have done the best during the week, so you know there is
some profit-taking there.”

Stocks remain vulnerable to further downturns, he noted.
“Next week we’ll have to see if there’s a proper consolidation
over 4,500 points before we can say we’ve seen a change in
trend.”

But gains over the rest of the week still put the index on
track for its best week in 22 months.

Retailer Cencosud (CEN.SN: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 1.72 percent in the
afternoon, with industrial conglomerate Copec (COP.SN: Quote, Profile, Research) down
1.06 percent.

Brazilian equities outperformed regional peers on Friday,
with the Bovespa index (.BVSP: Quote, Profile, Research) up 0.58 percent in the
afternoon, and touched its highest intraday level in two
weeks.

“The Brazilian bourse has suffered quite a bit this year,”
said Roni Lacerda, a fund manager with Mercatto Investimentos
in Rio de Janeiro.

Corporate earnings reports over the next few sessions
should give the index more upward momentum, as well, Lacerda
said.

Already those fourth-quarter results have helped some
companies. Shares of Brasil Foods (BRFS3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 0.33 percent,
after the company reported a 16-fold increase in net income in
the fourth quarter of last year. [ID:nN24191263]

Oil companies also rose, with heavyweight Petrobras
(PETR4.SA: Quote, Profile, Research) advancing 0.98 percent and OGX (OGXP3.SA: Quote, Profile, Research) 1.63
percent.

(Additional reporting by Luciana Lopez in Sao Paulo; Editing
by Diane Craft)

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam stocks dip but still track strong week