April 4, 2008 / 9:25 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks unchanged as Wall Street eyed

BUENOS AIRES, April 4 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed little changed on Friday as investors eyed a mixed day on Wall Street, where weak labor data took a toll, and profit-taking late in the session erased earlier gains in low volume.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV nudged down 0.02 percent to 2,152.03 points, cutting short a seven-session run of gains.

“The MerVal had a limited fall despite the negative jobs data in the United States,” said Augusto Farina, a trader at Amirante Galitis brokerage.

Buenos Aires-listed shares of Brazilian state oil company Petrobras APBR.BA were up 0.28 percent to 177 pesos and Banco Macro (BMA.BA) gained 0.48 percent to 8.34 pesos.

“Interest in shares such as Brazil’s Petrobras and Banco Macro enabled the market to close stable but with low volume due to Wall Street fears,” he said.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI gave up 16.61 points, or 0.13 percent, while the Nasdaq .IXIC gained by 0.32 percent, as nagging fears about more bank losses and the biggest monthly decline in the job market in five years overshadowed optimism that the credit crisis was easing.

On the MerVal, top percentage losers included telephone company Telecom Argentina TEC2.BA, which fell 2.21 percent to 13.9 pesos, and Banco Patagonia (BPAT.BA), which shed 1.85 percent to 2.66 pesos per share.

On the broad market, volume was a meager $24.1 million. Of the active issues, 32 advanced, 28 declined and 13 ended unchanged.

Meanwhile the peso ended stable at 3.1625/3.1650 ARS=RASL per dollar in formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= also closed unchanged at 3.1825/3.1850.

On the debt market, government bonds <AR/BONOS> rose 1.0 percent on average. The session’s gainers were led by the dollar-denominated Discount bond, which gained 1.6 percent. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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