Argentine stocks down on global downturn

viernes 14 de marzo de 2008 18:44 ARST

BUENOS AIRES, March 14 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks slid on Friday mirroring Wall Street's slump as credit fears were revived in the United States after investment bank Bear Stearns got emergency financing.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed down 1.52 percent to 2,117.10 points.

The MerVal, which is highly sensitive to fluctuations of U.S. stocks, fell in line with Wall Street's drop as concerns about the fallout from Bear Stearns' BSC.N deteriorating liquidity position prompted investors to sell financial shares.

"This is yet again a session tied to the volatility of the United States (markets)," said Leopoldo Olivari, a trader at Bacque brokerage.

This session's losers were led by Brazil's Petrobras APBR.BA, down 3.44 percent to 173.9 pesos per share, and Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA, which controls Argentina's biggest private bank, and which dropped 3.5 percent to 2.2 pesos.

On the broad market, volume was a moderate-to-healthy $38.1 million. Of the active issues, 53 declined, 17 advanced and 15 ended unchanged.

Argentine clocks turn back one hour on Sunday, and on Monday new stock market opening and closing times take effect: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time (1400-2000 GMT).

Meanwhile, government debt prices <AR/BONOS> fell 1.0 percent on average. This session's losers were led by the dollar-denominated Par bond dropping 2.3 percent.

With the dollar in free-fall against the euro, the peso EURCC=RASL hit a new historic low against that currency in the informal market, down to 4.92/5.02 pesos per euro.

Against the dollar, the peso firmed 0.16 percent to 3.1425/3.1450 ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= weakened the same percentage to 3.1825/3.1850 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag)