BUENOS AIRES, April 8 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks inched higher on Tuesday as investors showed interest in the leading local shares, boosting overall trade volume, traders said.
The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV rose 0.58 percent to 2158.73 points.
"With a little more volume, the MerVal moved in line with the Brazilian market and was very focused on strength in Tenaris, Brazil's Petrobras and on a buying frenzy around Banco Patagonia amid rumors of a sale," said Horacio Corneille, a trader at the brokerage that bears his name.
Market heavyweight Tenaris (TENA.BA), the world's top producer of seamless steel tubes for the oil and natural gas industry, rose 2.1 percent to close at 82.7 pesos as investors worked to rebuild their portfolios after profit-taking.
Shares of Banco Patagonia BPAT.BA climbed 1.12 percent to end at 2.7 pesos. After market close, the company sent a statement to the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange denying the rumors that it would be sold.
Shares of Brazil's state-owned Petrobras APBR.BA gained 2.36 percent to end at 181.8 pesos in Buenos Aires.
The MerVal rose in tandem with the Brazilian market .BVSP, which gained 0.57 percent on purchases of blue-chip shares.
On Argentina's broad market, volume was a healthy $34.4 million. Of the active issues, 34 advanced, 20 declined and 22 ended unchanged.
On the debt market, government bonds <AR/BONOS> fell 0.8 percent on average as investors sold some of their holdings ahead of the government's release of March inflation data on Thursday.
The session's losers were led by the peso-denominated Par bond, which shed 1.1 percent in over-the-counter trade.
The government has been accused of under-reporting inflation for over a year, for political reasons and to reduce its payments on inflation-indexed debt, which accounts for about 40 percent of Argentina's total debt load.
According to the median in a Reuters poll, analysts forecast the government will report March inflation of 1.1 percent. But they say real inflation was as much as three times that due to a 21-day farm strike.
Meanwhile the peso closed stable at 3.1575/3.1600 ARS=RASL per dollar in formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= was also unchanged at 3.1800/3.1825. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Leslie Adler)