BUENOS AIRES, May 14 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Wednesday amid market jitters fed by political uncertainty over a farmers strike, and the central bank intervened heavily to keep the peso currency from weakening.
A standoff between farmers protesting an export tax hike and the government has weighed heavily on Argentina's financial markets in recent days.
The MerVal index .MERV of leading stocks slipped 0.85 percent to close at 2,088,78 points, accumulating a 0.32 loss so far this month.
Jitters over the dispute have fueled dollar buying by Argentines, which also has put downward pressure on banking shares on the MerVal.
"The exit of funds from banking shares continued as it has in recent days," said Marcelo Trovato, a trader at the Caja Social Inversiones.
Volume on the broad market was $48.2 million and of active issues, 30 advanced, 64 declined and 19 were unchanged.
Banco Macro (BMA.BA)BMA.N shed 5.49 percent to close at 6.19 pesos and Banco Hipotecario BHI.BA lost 5.0 percent to close at 1.33 percent.
On the foreign exchange market, traders said central bank sold dollars agressively to keep the peso from weakening.
"The peso strengthen because the central bank flooded the market with dollars," one trader said.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso gained 0.31 percent to 3.26/3.2625 per dollar <ARSB=.
In formal interbank trade -- where the central bank intervenes directly -- it gained 0.08 percent to 3.16/3.1625 per dollar ARS=RASL.
Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Diane Craft