Argentine stocks sag, mirroring regional losses

martes 4 de marzo de 2008 19:29 ARST
 

BUENOS AIRES, March 4 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Tuesday as regional markets followed Wall Street lower on investor worries over the health of the U.S. economy.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended down 0.1 percent to 2,134.56 points, erasing a rise up to 0.83 in the first part of the session. The Buenos Aires market has accumulated a 2.94 percent loss over the last three sessions.

The MerVal gave up gains earlier in the session spearheaded by heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA(TS.N: Cotización), traders said.

Shares in Tenaris, the top global producer of seamless steel pipes for the oil and gas industry, closed up 5.15 percent to 74.55 pesos per share.

"The MerVal wants to recover, but it keeps running up against the problems in the U.S. economy," said Jorge Alberti, an analyst with ElAccionista.com, a specialty Web site.

Regional markets were pressured downward by the slide on Wall Street, where financial shares slumped as U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures were likely to rise.

In Buenos Aires, food producer Molinos MOL.BA led losers, shedding 4.38 percent to 12 pesos per share. Brazilian stare-run energy firm Petrobras APBR.BA (PETR4.SA: Cotización) closed down 3.21 percent to 181 pesos.

Volume on the broad market totaled a healthy $43.6 million, and of the active issues, 51 declined, 20 advanced and 16 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, government debt prices <AR/BONOS> fell 0.3 percent on average. The session's losers were led by the dollar-denominated Par bond, which fell 1.2 percent.

The peso strengthened 0.16 percent to close at 3.1525/3.1550 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.

However, in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= firmed 0.08 percent to 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag)