October 2, 2008 / 9:08 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine markets tumble on global uncertainty

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Argentina’s stocks, bonds and peso currency all slumped on Thursday amid renewed investor fears that a U.S. financial crisis could spark a global economic recession.

The MerVal index of leading shares .MERV shed 5.27 percent to end at 1,520.92 points, a day after the U.S. Senate voted in favor of a bailout plan for the financial sector that must still be approved by the lower house of Congress.

The MerVal is down 29 percent since the start of the year.

“External losses keep dragging down the MerVal, above all Brazil’s sharp drop which shows the complicated international situation is affecting all markets,” said Mariano Tavelli, a trader at Tavelli y Compania brokerage.

Brazil’s Bovespa .BVSP ended down 7.34 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 3.22 percent.

The session’s losses were led by Brazil’s Petrobras APBR.BA, which sank 11.85 percent to 61 pesos a share in Buenos Aires, and steel-tube maker Tenaris TENA.BA, which plummeted 11.36 percent to 52.30 pesos.

Volume on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange was moderate at $38.2 million. Of active issues 13 advanced, 80 declined and 10 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, Argentine sovereign bonds traded locally shed 4 percent on average in over-the-counter trade, pressured by a 6.8 percent loss in the battered peso-denominated Par bond ARPARP=RASL, according to the bid price.

“Bonds are in a free fall because investors don’t want to take risky positions, they prefer to be liquid and take cover in dollars,” a trader said.

Argentina’s debt spreads over similar U.S. Treasuries widened 99 basis points to top 1,100 on the JPMorgan Emerging Markets Bond Index Plus (EMBI+) 11EMJ, but ultimately settled around 1072 basis points.

The spreads shrank to a minimum of 180 basis points in early 2007.

The peso currency weakened 0.32 percent in interbank trade ARS=RASL to 3.1425/3.1450 per U.S. dollar. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso slumped 0.39 percent to 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke)

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