July 1, 2008 / 9:42 PM / in 12 years

Argentine stocks slip in line with regional losses

BUENOS AIRES, July 1 (Reuters) - Argentine bonds and stocks fell on Tuesday in tandem with regional markets hit by fears over the impact of inflation and soaring oil prices, while the peso firmed amid central bank intervention.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV slipped 0.6 percent to end at 2,095.12 points, after dipping by as much as 2.22 percent during the day — after two sessions of gains led by energy-related stocks.

Banking issues picked up at the end of the day after financial shares on Wall Street .DJI recovered as investors looked for bargains.

“The MerVal followed Brazil .BVSP and Mexico .MXX, pulled by Tenaris due to its weighting,” said Horacio Corneille, who runs a brokerage that bears his name. “The rise of the banks was logical when you looked at the gains of sector in the United States.”

Banco Hipotecario BHI.BA jumped 5.31 percent while Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA rose 3.18 percent.

The biggest loser was Tenaris TENA.BA (TS.N), the world’s biggest maker of seamless steel pipes for the energy industry, down 2.34 percent on profit-taking to 116.8 pesos. Tenaris had driven the MerVal’s gains in the prior two sessions.

Trade volume remained moderate at $32.5 million. Of active issues, 33 rose, 84 fell and 14 were unchanged.


On the local debt market, Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> slipped 0.9 percent on average in over-the-counter trade in a market underpinned by jitters over the U.S. economy and greater risk aversion among investors, traders said.

Tuesday’s weakest performers included the dollar-denominated Discount bond, which finished down 2.3 percent.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso ARS=RASL firmed to 3.02/3.0225 per dollar, its strongest level for 31 months due to dollar sales by grains exporters and the central bank, traders said.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso appreciated by 0.49 percent to close at 3.0425/3.045 per dollar ARSB=.

Traders said the continued central bank intervention meant Argentina’s peso was often moving against the trend of other regional money markets, where local currencies fell against the greenback on Tuesday due to the oil-price rally.

The bank has been selling dollars to bolster the peso amid uncertainty surrounding a farm dispute that began in mid-March over export taxes on soy. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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