Argentina stocks flat, bonds mixed in volatile trade

jueves 3 de enero de 2008 19:12 ARST

BUENOS AIRES Jan 3 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed steady on Thursday in a session marked by thin trade, as institutional investors remained cautious over how U.S. economic data could affect markets, traders said.

The MerVal index .MERV of the 42 leading stocks dipped a modest 0.05 percent to 2,150.57 points.

"We had a selective session as investors wait to see what external trend emerges in the wake of official U.S. employment figures," said Horacio Corneille, a trader at a brokerage that bears his name.

Among Thursday's losers was the third-ranked index leader Banco Macro BMA.BA, which shed 2.4 percent to end at 7.40 pesos a share.

On the broad market, volume was modest at $33 million, and 36 active issues advanced, 31 declined and 12 were unchanged.

Sovereign debt on the local market ended mixed on Thursday in a volatile session, traders said.

In Buenos Aires, bonds finished the day with an average loss of 0.3 percent <AR/BONOS>.

Boden 12 bonds in pesos ARBODEN12=RASL led losers, while dollar-denominated Boden 14s ARBODEND14=RASL posted the biggest gain in over-the-counter trade.

Argentina's peso firmed 0.16 percent to end at 3.14/3.1425 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes directly, as exporters sold large quantities of dollar earnings.

But in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso weakened 0.24 percent to close at 3.17/3.1725 per dollar ARSB=. The peso currency shed 2.6 percent in 2007. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola, Writing by Hilary Burke; editing by Gary Crosse)