Argentine bonds, stocks swoon on global rout

jueves 20 de mayo de 2010 12:00 ART

BUENOS AIRES May 20 (Reuters) - Argentine stock and bond prices dropped sharply on Thursday morning on fear of contagion from the euro zone debt crisis and lower-than-expected acceptance of the first phase of the government's exchange offer on defaulted bonds.

The benchmark MerVal stocks index .MERV was down 4.4 percent at 2,082 points at 1436 GMT.

Sovereign bond prices fell an average 1.4 percent in over-the-counter trade in Buenos Aires according to Reuters pricing data.

The 2038 Par bond in dollars dropped 3.58 percent percent to an ask price of 33.65 RPARD=RASL in local trade.

"On the global level things are worse all the time since the euro zone situation has started to cause a certain capital flight from Brazil and that could seriously impact our market," said Ricardo Maied, trader at Federal Bursatil brokerage in Buenos Aires.

Maied said share prices were also reacting to the announcement late on Wednesday from Economy Minister Amado Bodou who said 46 percent of Argentina's outstanding defaulted bonds have entered a swap offer.

The government is hoping for a floor acceptance rate of 60 percent in the $18.3 billion swap, which offers new bonds and cash to investors in exchange for the defaulted bonds, but at a steep discount to face value.

Investors have until June 7 to tender their bonds in the swap. Argentina aims to complete the swap to repair its reputation, which still suffers from a massive 2002 default, on global markets.

Argentina's country risk 11EMJ widened 72 basis points on Thursday to 854, its highest level since September. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by James Dalgleish & Theodore d'Afflisio)