Argentina stocks jump on hope for U.S. measures
BUENOS AIRES Jan 28 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks jumped on expectations of more U.S. measures to stabilize banks, while bonds in the South American country rose in anticipation of a government debt swap that was to conclude on Wednesday.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV rose 2.41 percent to 1,105.45 points. U.S. shares gained on optimism that the Obama administration was accelerating a plan to remove money losing assets from banks' books in a bid to revive lending.
On the broad market, volume was 41.5 at $11.7 million. Of active issues 33 advanced, 17 declined and six were unchanged.
Buenos Aires-listed shares of Brazilian oil company Petrobras (APBR.BA: Cotización), weighted 11.6 percent of the MerVal, soared 9.2 percent to 47.5 pesos per share.
"In the weeks ahead it is very likely that the Merval will remain in a range between 900 and 1,200, with any volatility hinging on external markets and the price of oil," said the Capital Markets Argentina (CMA) consultancy in a report.
Argentine government bonds traded over-the-counter in Buenos Aires rose on average, led by the Boden 14 ARBODEN14=RASL, denominated in pesos, which leaped 4 percent to an ask price of 65.50.
Demand for bonds rose as the Argentine government expected to strengthen its financing position for next year with a new issue of bonds that it will swap for short-term bank loans known as "guaranteed loans."
"With the swap the needs (for government financing) for 2009 are pretty much covered. My only criticism is they should have done it before," said Eric Ritondale, economist with Econviews in Buenos Aires.
The result of the swap was to be announced Wednesday night.
The peso currency weakened for a seventh consecutive session to fresh seven-year lows, and the spread widened between the formal exchange rate, based on interbank trade, and the informal rate based on trade between foreign exchange houses, indicated high demand for greenbacks.
In formal exchange between banks the peso slipped 0.14 percent to 3.4875/3.4900 per dollar ARS=RASL. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso slid 0.35 percent to 3.5400/3.5450 ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola, editing by Diane Craft)
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