Argentina stocks, bonds fall on U.S. data, Bhutto

jueves 27 de diciembre de 2007 17:42 ART

BUENOS AIRES Dec 27 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks and bonds fell on Thursday on contagion from Wall Street after weak U.S. data on jobs and durable goods and as a political assassination in Pakistan rattled markets worldwide.

The MerVal index .MERV of the 25 leading stocks slipped 0.53 percent to 2,168.23 points. On the broad market volume was brisk at $63 million and of active issues 68 advanced, 57 declined and 17 were unchanged.

Market bellwether Tenaris TENA.BA, which makes steel pipes for the oil industry, gave up 3.46 percent to close at 22.3 pesos per share.

"Wall Street weakness affected the MerVal's behavior, but the fall was cushioned by a renewed interest in banking issues," said Dionisio Corneille, a trader at his namesake brokerage in Buenos Aires.

Banco Patagonia BPAT.BA rose 3.42 percent to 3.62 pesos per share, while Banco Hipotecario BHI.BA rose 2.27 percent to 2.25 pesos per share.

Sovereign debt on the local market fell an average 0.3 percent as investors exercised caution after the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, which heightened concerns about global political stability.

In over-the-counter trade the Discount bond in dollars fell 0.4 percent.

In the foreign exchange market, the peso currency lost ground for a second day in a row as banks and companies sought dollars to meet end-year obligations.

"There are one-time dollar purchases to close the year's books. This always happens, it's mostly foreign banks buying dollars at the behest of their headquarters," said a trader, who asked not to be named.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso weakened 0.16 percent to 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar ARSB=. In formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes, the peso also lost 0.16 percent, closing at 3.1475/3.1500 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; translating by Fiona Ortiz; editing by Gary Crosse)