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BUENOS AIRES, May 21 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks shrugged off global declines to rise for a fifth consecutive session on Wednesday, as high crude prices boosted heavyweight oil stocks and on optimism over the end of farm protests.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV gained 0.12 percent to close at 2,221.13 point, accumulating a 6.34 percent gain over five sessions. Volume was moderate to heavy at $37.3 million on the broad market and of active issues 36 advanced, 36 declined and 20 were unchanged.
Pampa Holding energy company (PAM.BA) jumped 3.26 percent on rumors that the government would soon raise utility rates.
"Expectations for an understanding in the farm conflict again drove the MerVal to independence from the big falls in foreign markets," said Augusto Farina, trader with Amirante Galitis brokerage.
Growers in Argentina -- one of the world's agricultural powerhouses -- have held two prolonged protests since March over new taxes on soy exports. The growers held back goods from market, freezing grains exports and provoking a political crisis.
Farmers ended their second strike on Wednesday and are expected to sit down with the government on Thursday for talks.
Government bond prices rose 0.7 percent on average in local trade on Wednesday as investors retook positions shed during the farm conflict.
The peso-denominated Disc bond rose 2.3 percent.
In the foreign exchange market, the peso currency firmed 0.16 percent to 3.1325/3.1350 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade where the central bank intervenes almost every day.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso was unchanged at 3.2100/3.2125 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi, writing by Fiona Ortiz; editing by Diane Craft)