Argentine stocks and bonds end steady

viernes 29 de agosto de 2008 18:30 ART

BUENOS AIRES Aug 29 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks ended flat on Friday with thin trade volume cushioning local shares from a downturn in regional bourses, while bond prices slipped and the peso closed mixed.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended unchanged at 1,777.14 points, accumulating a 7.4 percent loss in the month of August. In that last three months, the MerVal has shed 19.4 percent.

"It was a typical day at the end of the month, when investment funds selectively try to revalue some shares to improve their portfolios," said Ruben Pascuali, a trader at Mayoral Bursatil brokerage.

"The key was the thin trade volume, which flattened the market," he added.

Trade volume was a paltry $12.9 million. Of active shares, 64 rose, 35 fell and 11 were unchanged.

Steelmaker Siderar SID.BA led the MerVal's losses, falling 3.3 percent to 25.10 pesos a share, while power transmission company Transener (TRA.BA: Cotización) led gains, rising 6 percent to 1.06 pesos a share.

Argentine debt traded locally dipped 0.2 percent on average in over-the-counter trade, a day after the government bought back just $3.2 million worth of bonds in a formal auction.

The dollar-denominated Boden 2014 ARBODEN14D=RASL took the biggest hit, with its ask price falling 2.25 percent.

Traders said the fact that not many bondholders tendered their paper at current prices was a positive sign, showing they were willing to hold onto the debt despite recent turbulence.

The peso closed mixed, slipping 0.16 percent against the dollar to 3.0300/3.0325 ARS=RASL in interbank transactions and firming by the same percentage to 3.0625/3.0650 ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke)