Argentina stocks inch up, oil shares lead gains

miércoles 17 de octubre de 2007 18:30 ART

BUENOS AIRES Oct 17 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks crept up on Wednesday just before closing, with issues linked to high petroleum prices leading gains as oil hit a fresh record.

The MerVal index .MERV of 25 leading stocks gained a slight 0.22 percent to close at 2,240.21 points. Volume on the broad market was moderate at $41.9 million. Among active issues, 33 advanced, 41 declined and 12 were unchanged.

"It was a very selective and volatile day since there isn't any fresh money and the only purchases were of specific issues," said Jorge Alberti, an analyst with

Oil prices continued to rise past $89 dollars per barrel on political tensions in Turkey and Iraq, stoking interest in crude-related stocks on the Argentine market.

Outstanding gainers included Brazilian state oil company Petrobras APBR.BA, which was up 0.97 percent at 134.8 pesos per share, and global steel pipe leader Tenaris TENA.BA, which advanced 0.36 percent to 83.2 pesos per share.

Meanwhile, Argentine sovereign bonds <AR/BONOS> on the local market declined 0.3 percent on average as investors focused attention on U.S. economic indicators.

Par bonds denominated in dollars slipped 0.5 percent, while Discount paper in pesos lost 0.4 percent.

The peso currency ended weak after investors snatched up dollars in the last few hours of trade.

In trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the currency gave up 0.16 percent to close at 3.205/3.2075 per U.S. dollar ARSB=.

In formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes, it weakened 0.08 percent to 3.1600/3.1625 per dollar ARS=RASL.