Argentine stocks dip, eyeing Fed; peso gains

martes 24 de junio de 2008 18:51 ART

BUENOS AIRES, June 23 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Tuesday, shedding recent gains as investors awaited signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve on whether it will soon begin to raise interest rates.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV fell 1.14 percent to 2,067.59 points, ending four consecutive sessions of gains that saw the index climb 2.73 percent.

Volume was a slack $17.5 million. Of active issues 20 rose, 45 fell and 10 were unchanged.

"The lack of volume showed investors are in a holding pattern," said Antonio Cejuela, an analyst at the Fuente Hermanos brokerage.

The Fed began a two-day rate-setting meeting on Tuesday, and although the U.S. central bank is expected to keep rates steady investors are keenly awaiting its policy statement following the close of the meeting on Wednesday.

Petrobras Participaciones PCH.BA led losers, falling 4.3 percent to 3.78 pesos, followed by Banco Macro (BMA.BA: Cotización), which slipped 2.79 percent to 5.92 pesos.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso ARS=RASL strengthened to its highest level since December 2005, rising 0.08 percent to close at 3.015/3.0175 per dollar in formal interbank trade.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso strengthened 0.65 percent to 3.0575/3.06 per dollar ARSB=, its strongest level since November 2006.

Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> closed mixed in light trade.   Continuación...