--IPC index falls 1% to 38962 points
--Europe debt crisis and political issues in Holland and France drive risk fears
--Wal-Mart de Mexico tumbles 12% on bribery probe; America Movil gains
By Laurence Iliff
Mexican stocks closed sharply lower Monday amid a global risk selloff, with Europe debt concerns compounded locally by planned probes into Wal-Mart de Mexico on allegations that the nation's top retailer may have used bribes to secure permits allowing for its rapid growth.
The V shares of Walmex, as the retailer is sometimes called, lost 12% to MXN37.89. After the market close, Walmex reported a first-quarter net profit of 4.71 billion pesos ($357.5 million), for a 4.5% increase compared with the same quarter last year.
The IPC index of the leading 35 issues lost 1% on the day to 38962 points on heavy volume of 347.8 million shares valued at MXN11.21 billion. Walmex stock is the second most heavily weighted issue on the IPC after wireless company America Movil. The L shares of Latin America's largest cellular provider rose 2.9% to MXN16.47.
Amid other heavyweights, the CPO shares of cement and building-materials maker Cemex lost 0.9% to MXN8.83, and the B shares of copper miner and railways operator Grupo Mexico slipped 1.2% to MXN40.30.
The shares of retailers that compete most directly with Wal-Mart de Mexico posted gains. The B shares of Soriana added 2.4% to MXN38.82, and the UBC shares of Comercial Mexicana, or Comerci, rose 1.8% to MXN27.84. Smaller retailer Chedraui B shares were off 1.2% to MXN33.73.
Europe and its ongoing debt crisis continued to inject gloom into local markets like equities and the Mexican peso as investors kept a distance from investments seen as relatively risky. Data showed that business activity in the euro zone's private sector contracted the most in five months in April, and France and the Netherlands are coming under political pressure to ease their budget-cutting plans.
The Mexican peso lost ground against the U.S. dollar, which was quoted in Mexico City at MXN13.1760, according to Infosel, compared with Friday's close of MXN13.0970.
-By Laurence Iliff, Dow Jones Newswires; (52-55) 5980-5184, [email protected]