BUENOS AIRES, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rose for a ninth straight session on Thursday to close at the highest since Dec. 12 on institutional fund buying fueled by positive corporate results.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended up 1.51 percent to 2,199.12 points, accumulating a 7.85 percent rise in the last nine trading days.
Following profit-taking in the first part of the session, when it fell by as much as 0.42 percent, the market diverged from Wall Street, where U.S. stocks fell nearly 1 percent.
"The latest favorable balances, those of Tenaris, Siderar and (Grupo Financiero) Galicia, encouraged institutional funds to invest their liquidity," said Dionisio Corneille, a trader at a brokerage which bears his name.
"These operations enabled the market to distance itself from Wall Street's turbulence," he added.
U.S. stocks were down as worries about the economy grew after a weaker-than-expected gross domestic product figure and a warning from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the weak housing market will probably cause some bank failures.
The Buenos Aires session's winners were led by Tenaris TENA.BA (TS.N), the world's largest maker of seamless steel tubes for the oil and natural gas industry, with a 3.42 percent rise to 72.5 pesos per share, steelmaker Siderar SID.BA, up 0.56 percent to 26.85 pesos, and Grupo Financiero Galicia (GFG.BA), gaining 3.51 percent to 2.36 pesos.
Volume on the broad market totaled $33.7 million, and among active issues, 43 advanced, 28 declined and 15 were unchanged.
Government debt prices fell 0.8 percent on average. The session's losers were led by the peso-denominated Discount bond, which fell 2.3 percent.
The peso closed stable at 3.1550/3.1575 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.
However, in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= weakened 0.08 percent to 3.1850/3.1875 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by James Dalgleish)