February 4, 2008 / 9:24 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks surge on opportunity buying

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks surged on Monday as investors bought up low-priced companies and due to optimism over fourth-quarter corporate financial reports, traders said.

The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks ended up 1.92 percent at 2,084.55 points, reducing this year’s accumulated losses to 3.12 percent.

The MerVal’s highest percentage gainers included aluminum producer Aluar ALU.BA with a 5.13 percent increase to 5.74 pesos per share and the energy group Pampa Holding PAM.BA with a 4.78 percent rise to close at 2.41 pesos per share.

“The index’s rise was propelled by expectations of healthy balances,” said Juan Ignacio Di Santo, an analyst at Puente Hermanos.

Argentine companies are due to present yearly and quarterly results in the second half of February.

Di Santo said Pampa Holding’s rise was price adjustment as it has already been “strongly punished.” Pampa’s share price has dropped by more than 18 percent since mid-November.

Traders said the heavy losses in world markets due to fears of recession in the United States left stock values in Argentina at very attractive levels to rebuild portfolios.

Volume on the broad market was a modest $24.8 million with 52 issues advancing, 19 retreating and 17 unchanged.

On the local debt market, Argentine sovereign bonds <AR/BONOS> rose by 0.7 percent on average on institutional investor buying, pending January’s inflation figures. The winners were led by Boden 14 bonds, which rose 2 percent, and dollar-denominated Par bonds, which were up 1.2 percent.

Argentina’s peso currency ARS=RASL closed 0.16 percent weaker at 3.1575/3.1600 per dollar, in formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= ended flat at 3.1675/3.1700 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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