BUENOS AIRES, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks hovered around a two-week high on Thursday, buoyed by institutional investor interest in heavyweight Tenaris, a top global maker of steel tubes for the energy industry.
Traders said investors are reorienting their portfolios toward export companies as commodities prices keep rising.
"Despite the fall in U.S. markets, the MerVal moved higher along with Tenaris, which attracted heavy purchases from institutional investors," said Marcelo Paccione, an analyst at ConsultCapital.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed 0.42 percent higher at 2,083.46 points, accumulating a 3.8 percent rise since Feb. 1.
Broad market volume was brisk at $37.3 million, and of the active issues 47 advanced, 27 declined and 10 were unchanged.
Government debt prices gained 0.6 percent on average in modest trade as investors eyed emerging markets assets cautiously amid worries over the U.S. economy.
The day's biggest gainer was the dollar-denominated Boden 14, which rose 1.1 percent in over-the-counter trade.
The peso closed 0.16 percent stronger at 3.1450/3.1475 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, after the central bank sold dollars for the second straight day, surprising investors used to intervention aimed at keeping the peso weak.
The peso had been slowly but steadily depreciating as Argentines sought refuge in dollars in light of U.S. recession fears and local inflation worries.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso held steady at 3.1800/3.1825 per dollar ARSB=. The central bank does not operate directly in the informal market. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Neil Stempleman)