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Marfrig Rises on Eased Concern Over Mad-Cow Agent Finding

Marfrig Alimentos SA, Brazil’s second-biggest food maker, rebounded as speculation eased that the finding of the mad-cow disease agent in the country will lead to a suspension of beef exports to Russia.

Shares gained 3.4 percent to 8.45 reais at the close of trading in Sao Paulo, the biggest advance since Nov. 21. The benchmark Bovespa index slid 0.3 percent.

Marfrig slumped 5.3 percent yesterday after Russia’s food safety agency said it is considering a Brazilian beef import ban because of a possible mad-cow disease case. Brazil’s agriculture ministry said Dec. 7 that tests on a 13-year-old cow that died in the Parana state in 2010 showed it carried the “causing agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.” The animal didn’t develop the disease, nor did the agent cause its death, according to the ministry.

“We warn against overreacting at this early stage,” Ricardo Boiati, Alan Cardoso and Pedro Bueno, analysts at Banco Bradesco SA’s brokerage unit, wrote in a report published yesterday. “Any arguments justifying a restriction are weak, and Russia currently depends significantly on Brazil to satisfy its demand for beef.”

Japan, Asia’s largest beef buyer, suspended imports from Brazil on Dec. 9 because of the mad-cow concern. “This ban is not very important as Brazil’s beef shipments to Japan account for just 0.1% of total exports,” the analysts wrote.

Marfrig has lost 1.1 percent this year while the Bovespa has added 4.6 percent during the same period.

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