Argentine stocks, bonds slip amid regional slump

miércoles 16 de enero de 2008 19:15 ARST

BUENOS AIRES Jan 16 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks ended slightly lower on Wednesday amid lingering doubts over how badly a U.S. economic downturn could hurt the region's emerging markets, traders said.

The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading companies dipped 0.17 percent to end at 2,065.77 points, falling 3.1 percent in the last two sessions.

Brazilian and Mexican stocks were down sharply when the Argentine market closed.

"The MerVal couldn't rise too much because of the negative trend in other regional bourses, but amid thin volume it was able to rebound from its lowest levels, near a floor of 2,000 points," said Horacio Corneille, a trader at a firm that bears his name.

On Argentina's broad market, volume was a modest $28 million; 31 issues advanced, 39 declined and 20 were unchanged.

Banco Macro BMA.BA was among the session's gainers, rising 2.1 percent to end at 7.42 pesos a share.

Sovereign bonds traded locally fell for a second straight day in quiet trade.

Argentine paper slipped 0.6 percent on average, with the worst losses seen in Par bonds denominated in dollars, which sank 2.3 percent.

The peso currency ended mixed. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso held flat at 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar ARSB=.

In formal interbank trade, the peso weakened 0.16 percent to 3.1450/3.1475 ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)