Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s lead narrowed in the latest poll from Caracas-based Datanalisis seven weeks ahead of October’s national election, according to Jefferies Group Inc.
Chavez had 46.8 percent support compared with 34.2 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, showing that his lead narrowed to 12.5 points from 15.3 percentage points in June, Siobhan Morden, head of Latin American fixed- income strategy at Jefferies in New York wrote today in a note to clients. The poll showed that 18.8 percent of those surveyed were undecided, according to the note.
The poll of 1,288 people interviewed between July 16 and Aug. 9 had a margin of error of 2.73 percentage points, according to a person who received the poll and declined to be identified because the survey is private. Luis Vicente Leon, President of Datanalisis, declined to comment on the poll and said that the next public poll will be presented in Caracas on Sept. 25.
Surveys have varied widely in the run-up to the Oct. 7 election where Chavez is seeking to extend his 13-year-rule through 2019. Consultores 21, a Caracas-based polling company, said in June that the two candidates are locked in a technical tie, while Hinterlaces said Aug. 16 that Chavez leads Capriles by 18 percentage points.
Chavez, 58, increased government spending 34 percent in the first half of 2012 from a year ago and is promoting social programs for the elderly and children in extreme poverty. The surge in spending and a 17.6 percent expansion in the construction industry in the second quarter helped the economy grow 5.4 percent from a year earlier.
Capriles, a 40-year-old former governor of Miranda state, has visited more than 150 towns across the country as he tries to close the gap on Chavez.
Venezuelan assets may see some “positive upside” on the closing gap in the opinion poll “as markets assign a higher probability to regime change,” Jefferies’ Morden said.
The yield on the benchmark 9.25 percent bonds due in 2027 fell 2 basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 11.09 percent at 10:17 a.m. in Caracas, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bond’s price rose 0.13 cents to 86.68 cents on the dollar.
Venezuelan bonds have returned 24.4 percent this year, the second-highest in emerging markets after Ivory Coast, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBIG index. Government securities and bonds sold by state-oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA have rallied as investors look to higher-yielding assets amid near zero interest rates in the U.S. and Europe and on the back of high oil prices.
Venezuela depends on oil for 95 percent of export revenue.
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