Argentine stocks, bonds sink on U.S. economy fears

viernes 29 de febrero de 2008 18:53 ARST

BUENOS AIRES Feb 29 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Friday, ending a run of nine straight days of gains, after Wall Street stocks slumped on fresh fears of a U.S. recession.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended down 1.67 percent to 2,162.20 points. During the nine-session rally, the index had clocked an accumulated rise of 7.85 percent.

Nevertheless, the MerVal gained 7.72 percent in February leaving it up for the year to date, with a gain of 0.49 percent.

"Wall Street pushes other markets (down) due to the negative economic indicators (in the United States)," said Diego Zavaleta, a trader at Besfamille brokerage.

"The MerVal fell in line with other world markets but active AFJP (pension fund) participation meant it had a softer downturn, in contrast with other occasions," he added.

Wall Street fell as another round of weak economic data added to United States recession fears and a record loss of AIG (AIG.N: Cotización), the world's biggest insurer, underscored worries about the financial sector.

In Buenos Aires, the session's losers were led by Brazil's state-run energy firm Petrobras APBR.BA, with a 6.33 percent drop to 188.75 pesos per share, and the energy distributor Metrogas MET.BA, falling 3.08 percent to 1.26 pesos per share.

Volume on the broad market totaled $37.5 million, and of the active issues, 49 declined, 19 advanced and 15 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, government debt prices <AR/BONOS> fell 1.0 percent on average due to the U.S. recession fears. The session's losers were led by the peso-denominated Par bond, which fell 2.7 percent for an accumulated loss of 5.0 percent in February.

The peso weakened 0.08 percent to close at 3.1575/3.1600 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= firmed 0.08 percent to 3.1825/3.1850 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag)