BUENOS AIRES, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rose on Friday on selective buying of leading shares and a general readjustment of regional markets that have been rattled by fears of a U.S. recession.
The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks ended up 1.88 percent at 2,045.14 points. Energy group Pampa Holding (PAM.BA), an index heavyweight, led the rise with a 3.6 percent gain to 2.3 pesos per share.
"The market was healthy despite a certain reduction in volume, but really it reacted due to the index heavyweights," said Ruben Pascuali, a trader at the Mayoral brokerage.
"Putting aside daily information about the United States, it seems many (brokers and investors) are now looking forward rather than backward," he added.
The MerVal's gains reflected those in the influential Brazilian Bovespa .BVSP, which closed up 2.67 percent. Wall Street was also higher.
Despite the gain, trade volume was relatively light in Buenos Aires and traders were closely tracking the impact of data showing U.S. employers cut payrolls for the first time in 4-1/2 years, reviving fears of a recession in the world's No. 1 economy.
Volume on the broad market was a light-to-moderate $28.6 million with 52 issues advancing, 20 retreating and 15 unchanged.
On the debt market, Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> rose by 0.7 percent on average at close. The session's winners were led by peso-denominated Boden 14 ARBODEN14=RASL, which jumped 2.2 percent.
Market analysts say Argentine bonds have become attractive since the U.S. Federal Bank cut interest rates, making their higher yields more attractive despite being more risky.
In formal interbank trade -- where the central bank intervenes -- the Argentine peso ARS=RASL firmed 0.16 percent to 3.1525/3.1550 per dollar. The bank's purchases of dollars were not enough to limit the impact of exporters' sales.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= strengthened by 0.08 percent to end at 3.1675/3.1700. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by James Dalgleish)