Argentine stocks rise in quiet trade

lunes 19 de enero de 2009 18:50 ARST

BUENOS AIRES Jan 19 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rose on Monday on selective buys, with trade volume plunging due to a U.S. market holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., traders said.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV gained 0.95 percent to close at 1,108.45 points, after falling as much as 0.31 percent earlier in the day.

On the broad market, volume was a paltry $1.7 million. Of active issues, 21 advanced, 15 declined, and 19 were unchanged.

"Today wasn't really worth taking into account, institutional investors were absent due to the U.S. holiday," said Francisco Marra, a trader at Bull Market Brokers.

The MerVal's gains were led by Argentine aluminum company Aluar ALU.BA, which jumped 3 percent to 2.39 pesos a share.

Virtually no volume was registered in Argentine government bonds traded over-the-counter in Buenos Aires, due to the U.S. market lull, traders said.

Meanwhile the peso currency, which is subject to regular interventions by the central bank, closed flat to firmer in a quiet session, traders said.

In formal exchange between banks, the peso was unchanged at 3.4550/3.4575 per dollar ARS=RASL. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso strengthened 0.36 percent to 3.5075/3.5125 ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Diane Craft)