BUENOS AIRES, July 22 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks dropped on Tuesday as lower global oil prices hit energy-related stocks, while bonds and the peso held steady.
The MerVal benchmark stock index .MERV closed down 1.26 percent at 1,956.77 points following two consecutive gains, deepening its losses in July to 7.17 percent and to 9.06 percent since the start of the year.
The biggest drag on the MerVal was index heavyweight Tenaris (TENA.BA), the world's biggest producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry. Its stock plunged 3.83 percent to 95.5 pesos per share.
Locally listed shares in Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras (APBR.BA) shed 3.5 percent to 88.3 pesos.
"The sharp losses of Tenaris and (Brazilian state oil company) Petrobras pressured the MerVal, though there was still some interest in banking and utility stocks," said Jorge Alberti of the online brokerage Elaccionista.com.
Oil, which last week had its biggest weekly decline ever, slid 2.4 percent in New York as the dollar rose.
Trade volume on the MerVal slimmed slightly to a moderate $36.5 million. Of active shares, 59 fell, 35 advanced and 13 were unchanged.
Argentine bonds traded with mixed values on the local market in a choppy session marked by profit-taking and central bank purchases, traders said.
Locally traded debt closed with an average gain of 0.6 percent. The biggest losers included Par paper in dollars, which fell 1.9 percent in over-the-counter trade.
The peso-denominated Discount bond rose 3.2 percent, thanks largely to the central bank's interest.
On the foreign exchange market, the peso traded steady against the dollar, with traders poised for a tide of greenbacks being sold by grain exporters following the government's decision to scrap a soy export tax hike, traders said.
In formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes, the peso ARS=RASL ended unchanged at 3.0225/3.0250 per dollar.
In informal trade between foreign-exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= gained 0.16 percent to 3.0675/3.070 per dollar.
The expected influx of dollars is expected to be met with central bank intervention to stop the peso from rising. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)