Argentine stocks fall on U.S. economy concerns

lunes 10 de marzo de 2008 19:10 ARST

BUENOS AIRES, March 10 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks dropped on Monday in line with Wall Street as investors feared deeper credit losses and a recession in the United States.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended down 1.37 percent at 2,100.60 points, accumulating a 2.85 percent loss in March.

"The MerVal let itself be dragged down by Wall Street's complicated situation," said Dionisio Corneille, director of the brokerage that bears his name.

The MerVal was pushed lower by a fall on Wall Street, where investors sold off financial shares, worried about more credit losses amid concerns the United States may already be in recession.

"Investors were hoping for a reassuring sign from the United States," added Corneille.

The session's losers were led by agricultural firm Cresud CRE.BA, which closed down 6.89 percent to 5 pesos per share, and one of Argentina's top telephone companies, Telecom Argentina (TEC2.BA: Cotización), which fell 4.48 percent to 13.85 pesos.

Investor caution materialized in a sharp volume cut in the broad market, down to a meager $19.2 million. Of the active issues, 59 declined, 15 advanced and 14 ended unchanged.

Government debt prices <AR/BONOS> fell 0.7 percent on average. The session's losers were led by the dollar-denominated Par bond, which dropped 1.9 percent, and the Discount bond also denominated in dollars, falling 1.1 percent.

The peso closed stable at 3.1550/3.1575 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.

On the other hand, in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= also remained unchanged at 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Dan Grebler)