BUENOS AIRES, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Thursday, dragged down by market heavyweight steel maker Tenaris (TENA.BA), in a low-volume day on the bourse as institutional investors stayed away, traders said.
The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks shed 1.39 percent to close at 2,011.07 points, with Tenaris, the biggest world producer of seamless steel tubes for the petroleum industry, plunging 3.15 percent to 59.95 pesos per share.
"The (Tenaris) fall is unjustified. The drop is a technical correction that I think will bounce back tomorrow," said Guillermo Curtchet, an analyst at Sudamericana de Finanzas.
"Tenaris is falling abroad, and this influences the (local) market," said Claudio Szlaien, analyst at Marlon Recursos Financieros.
Traders said increasing fears of an economic slowdown in the United States hit globalized firms such as Tenaris harder. Tenaris is controlled by Argentina's Teching but is based in Luxembourg. Its New York-listed shares TS.N lost 2.3 percent to $37.30 on Thursday, but its Milan-listed shares (TENR.MI) rose 0.88 percent.
Volume on the broad market was valued at $29.7 million, of which $9 million corresponded to transactions with Tenaris, with 18 issues advancing, 44 retreating and 15 unchanged.
On the local debt market, Argentine sovereign bonds <AR/BONOS> closed 0.7 percent down on average. The Disc bond denominated in dollars led the fall, dropping 0.9 percent.
The peso currency ARS=RASL closed stable at 3.1675/3.1700 per dollar, in formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= firmed 0.16 percent to end at 3.1725/3.1750 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)