December 7, 2007 / 9:39 PM / 13 years ago

Argentina stocks slip, bonds strong on inflation

(Adds closing values, stocks and foreign exchange markets)

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks edged lower on Friday due to selective profit-taking in cautious trade ahead of next week’s change of government, while bonds gained due to higher-than-expected inflation data.

The MerVal index .MERV of 25 leading stocks inched down 0.13 percent to 2,238.86 points after clocking up an accumulated gain of 2.51 percent in the previous two sessions.

Volume on the broad market was $42.3 million. Among active issues, 34 fell, 39 rose and 26 ended unchanged.

Traders said the market was in a wait-and-see mood ahead of President-elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner being sworn in on Monday and the meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve next week, where policymakers are expected to announce another interest rate cut.

“It was a boring day because there weren’t bigger purchases by big investors, with the MerVal focused on profit-taking, and expectancy,” said Augusto Farina, a trader at the Amirante Galitis brokerage.

The MerVal’s biggest loser was banking group Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA, which fell 1.23 percent to 2.41 pesos per share.

On the debt market, bonds <AR/BONOS> ended with an average gain of 1.2 percent after the government released a higher-than-expected figure for November inflation a day earlier.

Argentine inflation weighs heavily on the bond market because nearly 40 percent of the country’s debt is inflation-indexed.

Gainers included the peso-denominated Discount bond, which rose 3.7 percent ARDISCP=RASL in over-the-counter trade.

In the foreign exchange market, the peso finished broadly stable in the last day’s trade before Monday’s presidential swearing in ceremony.

In formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes, the peso gave up 0.16 percent to 3.1375/3.14 per dollar ARS=RASL. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso firmed by just 0.08 percent to 3.15/3.1525 per U.S. dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Diane Craft)

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