BUENOS AIRES, July 10 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Thursday, absorbing Wall Street's losses from a day before when local markets were shut for a national holiday, traders said.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV slipped 0.39 percent from Tuesday's close to end at 1,940.15 points. The index shed as much as 1.6 percent earlier in the session, and it is down nearly 8 percent since July 1.
"The difficult time that financial shares are having in the United States affected our banks, which are the ones that pressured the MerVal lower," said Horacio Corneille, head of a brokerage that bears his name.
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI lost more than 2 percent on fears of greater financial-sector losses due to a credit squeeze. But the Dow industrials rebounded on Thursday, helping the MerVal ease its losses.
Among the biggest losses locally was that of BBVA Banco Frances (FRA.BA), which shed 3.85 percent to end at 5.24 pesos a share.
Trading volume was a modest $24 million. Of active issues, 29 rose, 72 fell and 7 were unchanged.
On the foreign-exchange market, the peso weakened against the dollar as the central bank moved to buy dollars while other state-run banks continued purchasing pesos, traders said.
"Today the central bank acted to buy dollars and it looks like it set a floor for the market," a currency trader said.
In formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes, the peso ARS=RASL slipped 0.08 percent from Tuesday's close to end at 3.0150/3.0175 per dollar.
In informal trade between foreign-exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso weakened by 0.24 percent to 3.0625/3.0650 per dollar ARSB=.
The central bank had been selling its dollar reserves in recent weeks to prop up the peso amid uncertainty over a four-month tax standoff between farmers and the government, which has yet to be resolved.
The peso has strengthened 4.4 percent since the start of the year in interbank trade.
Meanwhile, Argentine bonds traded on the local market fell 0.4 percent on average as small- and medium-sized investors continued selling local assets amid the ongoing farm conflict, and state-run banks continued buying bonds.
Losses were led by the dollar-denominated Boden 14 paper ARBODEN14D=RASL, which shed 1.9 percent in over-the-counter trade, according to the bid price. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Hilary Burke)