15 de abril de 2008 / 21:07 / en 9 años

Argentina stocks flat despite rise in oil shares

BUENOS AIRES, April 15 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed virtually unchanged on Tuesday as gains by oil-related shares boosted by record crude oil prices were offset by a sell-off of financial shares.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV edged up 0.02 percent to 2,121.31 points.

U.S. crude futures rose to a record above $114 a barrel on Tuesday, as supply issues, rising diesel demand in China and a persistent weakness of the dollar helped lift prices.

"Apart from oil-related shares with the rise of crude oil, the market is unable to find the means to bounce back," said Jorge Alberti, an analyst at Elaccionista.com.

Buenos Aires-listed shares of Petrobras rose 1.18 percent to 196.5 pesos.

Petrobras Energia Participaciones PCH.BA, a unit of Brazil's Petrobras, gained 2.08 percent to 3.92 pesos.

Brazil's National Petroleum Agency confirmed that an offshore find, made by Brazil's state-owned Petrobras APBR.BA in partnership with Repsol-YPF REP.BA and BG Group BG.L, would be the largest in the world in the past 30 years, but remained cautious about estimating the reserves.

"The MerVal continues to be pushed down by bank shares," said Claudio Szalaien, an analyst at Marlon Recursos Financieros brokerage.

Among the session's losers was banking group, Banco Patagonia (BPAT.BA), which shed 1.42 percent to 2.78 pesos.

On the broad market, volume remained high around $47 million. Of the active issues, 76 declined, 29 advanced and 10 ended unchanged.

Meanwhile, on the debt market, government bonds <AR/BONOS> fell 0.3 percent on average. Prices were mixed, with the dollar-denominated Discount bond dropping 1.1 percent in over-the-counter trade, while Boden 2014, denominated in dollars, gained 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the peso weakened 0.24 percent to 3.1600/3.1625 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= also depreciated 0.24 percent to 3.1875/3.1900. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; editing by Gary Crosse)

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