Mauritius Stocks Hit 15-Month Low as Hotels Slump on Europe

Mauritius’s stocks gauge fell to the lowest level in more than 15 months, as hotel shares declined on concern that the debt problems in Europe would limit visitors.

The 38-member SEMDEX index retreated 0.6 percent to 1,837.20, the closing lowest level since October 2010.

New Mauritius Hotels Ltd., the country’s largest leisure operator by market value, led the drop, retreating 2.6 percent or 2 rupees, the most since Nov. 30, to 75 rupees. Sun Resorts Ltd., the second-biggest hotel operator, fell for an eighth successive trading day, its longest losing streak since 1995, weakening 2.1 percent to 41.60 rupees, the lowest since May 2009. Lux Resorts Ltd declined 2.2 percent to 22.50 rupees, the lowest level since January 2011.

“Investors have a negative outlook on our economy at the moment,” said Bhavik Desai, a research analyst at Port Louis-based Axys Stockbroking Ltd., in a phone interview from the city. “Being a euro destination, margins are set to be tighter for hotels.”

Tourist arrivals for 2011 missed estimates as the growth in the number of visitors from Europe slowed, according to Statistics Mauritius. Europe, led by France, accounted for 63 percent of arrivals. The euro accounts for 41 percent of total foreign currency income for the Indian Ocean island nation, data from the central bank show. The country, with a population of about 1.3 million people, is expected to expand 4 percent this 2012, compared with 4.1 percent last year.

“We find the fall in value of euro very worrying,” Finance Minister Xavier Luc Duval said in a speech received by fax today. “We are keeping our growth targets under review -- and may need to be less optimistic.”

European finance ministers are pushing bondholders to provide greater debt relief for Greece, spurring concern the nation may fail to make a March 20 bond payment deadline.

The rupee gained as much as 0.9 percent and traded 0.8 percent higher to 38.0574 per euro.

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