Energy, banking shares lift Argentine stocks
BUENOS AIRES Aug 22 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed higher on Friday driven by energy-related and banking shares but a drop in oil prices limited gains.
The benchmark MerVal stocks index .MERV rose 0.85 percent to close at 1,760.98 points, after falling 0.54 in early trading.
Media reports the government was taking initial steps to negotiate an agreement to repay Argentina's $6.3 billion in defaulted debt with the Paris Club also influenced the market, traders said.
"The MerVal reacted timidly to the reports," said Augusto Farina, a trader at Amirante Galitis brokerage.
Government officials did not immediately comment on the reports.
Trade volume on the overall market was $37 million. Of active shares, 60 gained, 44 fell and 20 were unchanged.
Power firm Pampa Holding PAM.BA helped pace gainers, rising 2.19 percent to 1.4 pesos. Banco Macro BMA.BABMA.N also climbed 1.86 percent 6.01 pesos.
Index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA, the world's leading producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry, shed 2.97 percent to 81.8 pesos as global oil prices fell almost $7.