BUENOS AIRES, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks ended higher on Thursday, getting a lift from market rumors that Banco Patagonia BPAT.BA would be sold, traders said, while bonds also racked up their second straight gain.
The MerVal index .MERV of 25 leading stocks ended 0.24 percent higher at 2,236.39 points and the wider market .IBG ended the session 0.55 percent higher.
Volume on the broad market shrank to a moderate $37.6 million. Among active issues, 45 rose, 24 fell and 17 ended unchanged.
Stock in Banco Patagonia rose 9.72 percent to 3.95 pesos per share and that drove the market in Buenos Aires, even though its shares are not part of the MerVal.
"Banco Patagonia's rise was due to the rumors about its sale," said Dionisio Corneille, a trader at a brokerage that bears his name.
Speculation that the bank would be bought by Brazil's Itau ITAU4.SAITU.N began weeks ago. The Argentine bank has previously denied the market rumors.
Bond prices in Argentina <AR/BONOS> rose by 1.2 percent on average as investors continued to bet the U.S. Federal Reserve will trim interest rates.
Leading the gainers was the Disc bond denominated in pesos, which jumped 3.6 percent in over-the-counter trade.
Expectations for a cut in U.S. interest rates lift assets in riskier emerging markets, drawing capital in search of higher returns.
In the foreign exchange market, the central bank put the brakes on the peso to stop it firming as grain exporters continued to sell dollars.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso strengthened 0.16 percent to 3.1600/3.1625 per U.S. dollar ARSB=. In formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes, the peso was flat at 3.1475/3.1500 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Translated by Helen Popper; Editing by James Dalgleish)