Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the state-run crude producer, rose to the highest in more than two months on speculation the government will raise gasoline and diesel prices to stem losses from fuel imports.
Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based company is known, rose 5.3 percent to 18.26 reais at the close of trading in Sao Paulo, the highest since June 13. The rise pares its loss this year to 6.5 percent, less than the 16 percent drop in the benchmark Ibovespa.
The Brazilian government, which controls Petrobras with a majority of voting shares, has already decided to raise fuel prices a third time this year and is discussing how and when the increase will be carried out, newspapers Valor Economico and O Estado de S. Paulo reported today, without saying where they got the information. The increase may reach 10 percent, Correio Braziliense columnist Vicente Nunes said.
The 19 percent slump of the Brazilian real in six months, the worst performance of 24 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg, is intensifying losses from fuel imports sold at a discount by Petrobras to distributors as part of a policy to keep inflation in check.
Petrobras is currently selling imported gasoline at a discount of about 25 percent relative to international prices, said Auro Rozenbaum, an equity analyst at Banco Bradesco SA.
“The relief won’t be that big,” Rozenbaum said by phone from Sao Paulo. “It’s positive but far from solving the problem. Petrobras will have to work on other fronts to solve the financial equation for 2014.”
Petrobras expects fuel imports to rise in the second half of the year because of scheduled maintenance at two refineries in Brazil and growing demand, Jose Cosenza, the company’s head of refining, said on an Aug. 12 conference call. Gasoline and diesel imports will surpass the second quarter’s average of 81,000 barrels a day, he said.
President Dilma Rousseff hasn’t discussed fuel price increases, spokesman Thomas Traumann said on the presidency’s website today. Petrobras declined to comment in an e-mailed response to questions.