Argentine stocks finish year down nearly 50 percent

martes 30 de diciembre de 2008 19:11 ARST
 

BUENOS AIRES Dec 30 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed with light gains on Tuesday, but ended the year down almost 50 percent -- the biggest annual loss since 1992.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended 0.3 percent higher at 1,079.66 points, trimming its loss since January to 49.82 percent. In May, it reached a record 2,239.38 points.

The stock market will remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the New Year holiday.

"What 2008 showed is that emerging markets weren't shielded from the U.S. mortgage crisis. This problem hit commodities and as a result of that, it hit the region's markets," said Marcelo Trovato, an analyst at the Caja Social de Inversiones brokerage in Buenos Aires.

In Tuesday's session, energy-related stocks led the gainers. Brazil's state energy company Petrobras APBR.BA (PETR4.SA: Cotización) rose 2.76 percent to 41 pesos per share.

Trade volume remained scant at $5.8 million.

On the local debt market, sovereign bond prices gained 1.3 percent on average in over-the-counter trade, with the dollar-denominated Par 2038 ARPARD=RASL climbing 3.39 percent to an ask price of 19.80.

The bond market has got a lift in recent sessions due to end-of-year bargain-hunting, traders say.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso fell 0.56 percent to close at 3.535/3.54 per dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses as measured by Reuters due to demand for dollars to meet end-of-year commitments.

That marked its weakest level since late 2002.

In formal interbank trade ARS=RASL, where the central bank routinely intervenes, the peso fell just 0.22 percent to 3.45/3.4525 per U.S. dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Helen Popper, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)