Argentina stocks inch higher, bonds keep slipping

viernes 20 de junio de 2008 18:11 ART

BUENOS AIRES, June 20 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks inched higher on Friday, thanks to a rebound in depressed banking shares, while the peso ended mixed and bonds continued to shed value.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV edged up 0.14 percent to 2,066.28 points, buoyed by a 9.26-percent jump in the share price of Argentine bank Banco Hipotecario (BHI.BA: Cotización), which ended at 1.18 pesos.

The MerVal accumulated a 1.49 percent gain in the last three sessions despite an ongoing tax dispute between farmers and the government. Farmers are due to end their latest commercial strike later on Friday, which could pave the way for talks.

The government also sent its controversial export tax measure to Congress this week, which eased tensions.

"The apparent truce between the government and the farm sector allowed the MerVal to once again remain insulated from external market turbulence," said Diego Zavaleta, a trader at Besfamille brokerage.

"That's why everything was concentrated again in banking shares," he added.

Trade volume was a brisk $38.4 million. Among active issues 21 rose, 38 fell and 14 were unchanged.

Argentina's peso closed mixed as the central bank's dollar sales slowed somewhat, traders said.

The peso ARS=RASL closed unchanged at 3.0325/3.0350 per dollar after firming early in formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes.   Continuación...