Argentine stocks rally on oil gains, peso stable

viernes 2 de enero de 2009 18:49 ARST

(Adds bonds and peso, quote and details)

BUENOS AIRES Jan 2 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks surged on Friday in the first session of the new year on strong gains in energy-related stocks and buoyed by other global markets.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended 5.89 percent higher at 1,143.33 points, after closing 2008 with a loss of almost 50 percent.

"The MerVal has bounced back in a session with significant global gains, driven by stocks related to oil and the energy sector," said Ruben Pascuali, a trader at the Mayoral Bursatil brokerage.

A rise in crude prices helped Brazilian state oil company Petrobras (APBR.BA: Cotización) gain 10.48 percent to 45.3 pesos per share. Index heavyweight Tenaris (TENA.BA: Cotización), the world's biggest producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry, jumped 7.73 percent to 39 pesos per share.

However, trade volume on the broad market remained thin at $9.5 million. Of active shares, 42 advanced, three retreated and 11 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, locally traded Argentine bonds gained 0.6 percent on average in light over-the-counter trade, with the dollar-denominated Discount 2033 ARDISCD=RASL rising 2.1 percent to an ask price of 34.00.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso was almost flat in a lackluster session following the holiday.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses ARSB= as measured by Reuters, the peso firmed just 0.07 percent at 3.5325/3.5375 to the dollar.

In formal interbank trade ARS=RASL, where the central bank regularly intervenes, the local currency weakened 0.22 percent to 3.4575/3.46 per U.S. dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Leslie Adler)