Argentine stocks dip on U.S. economy worries

viernes 15 de febrero de 2008 19:18 ARST

BUENOS AIRES Feb 15 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed slightly lower on Friday, pressured by losses in external markets due to weak economic indicators in the United States.

The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks closed down 0.13 percent at 2,039.09 points.

The index ended the week up 2.33 percent, but it has fallen 5.23 percent since the start of the year.

The New York Federal Reserve's business conditions index, which gauges manufacturing in New York state, posted its biggest monthly drop in February to the weakest level since April 2003. And U.S. consumer sentiment fell sharply in early February to levels associated with previous recessions.

"The decline on Wall Street complicated the session locally," said Francisco Marra, an analyst at Bull Markets Brokers.

"The fall was led by power companies such as Edenor and Pampa Holding, but heavy buying of Banco Macro and Grupo Financiero Galicia shares cushioned the MerVal's fall," he said.

The sessions losers were led by energy companies Edenor (EDN.BA: Cotización), down 3.15 percent to 3.07 pesos, and Pampa Holding (PAM.BA: Cotización), down 1.32 percent to 2.25 pesos per share.

At the same time, Banco Macro BMA.BA jumped 4.17 percent to 7.5 pesos and Grupo Financiero Galicia (GFG.BA: Cotización) rose 0.46 percent to 2.18 pesos.

Volume on the broad market totaled $37.2 million, of which about $18.6 million corresponded to Cedears, or foreign companies' shares traded in Buenos Aires, with 32 issues advancing overall, 37 retreating and 9 unchanged.   Continuación...