Argentine stocks inch higher on selective buying

viernes 4 de julio de 2008 18:07 ART

BUENOS AIRES, July 4 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks inched higher in light trade on Friday on selective buying in Buenos Aires-listed shares of Brazilian state-run energy company Petrobras and leading bank Banco Patagonia.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV rose 0.4 percent to close at 2,006.44 points, cutting its losses for the month to 4.81 percent.

Trade volume was a slack $4.5 million, the lowest level since September 2007.

"There was little activity because of the holiday in the United States. Shares that moved belonged to companies that don't trade in New York," said Leopoldo Olivari, a trader at Bacque brokerage.

Banco Patagonia (BPAT.BA: Cotización) climbed 4 percent to 2.08 pesos while Petrobras APBR.BA(PETR4.SA: Cotización) climbed 0.86 percent to 105.5 pesos.

Of active issues, 21 rose, 21 fell and 14 were unchanged.

The Fourth of July holiday in the United States brought trade in Argentine bonds on the local debt market to a standstill, traders said.

In the foreign exchange market, the peso closed mixed.

In formal interbank trade, the peso ARS=RASL closed flat at 3.025/3.0275 per dollar. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso strengthened 0.41 percent to close at 3.05/3.0525 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)