March 7, 2008 / 10:08 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks sink on U.S. recession fears

BUENOS AIRES, March 7 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks tumbled on Friday in tandem with Wall Street after U.S. jobs data showed the biggest monthly job decline in nearly five years and revived fears of a recession in the world’s leading economy.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended down 2.25 percent to 2,129.84 points, accumulating a 1.5 percent drop this week.

“The MerVal was strongly affected by the complicated day in the U.S. market after the release of the job data,” said Ruben Pascuali, a trader at Mayoral brokerage.

Wall Street, already pressured by a report that showed the economy shed jobs again in February, fell to session lows on Friday after Thornburg Mortgage Inc TMA.N, a struggling mortgage lender, said it has as much as $610 million of margin call exposure that significantly exceeds its available cash, putting its survival at stake.

The drop on the MerVal was linked to loses in oil-related shares because of a fall in crude oil prices.

“The MerVal followed the drop of (external markets) with a clear profit-taking linked to Tenaris shares, which flooded onto Petrobras Participaciones and Brazil’s Petrobras,” added Pascuali.

Losers were lead by heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA TS.N, the top global maker of steel tubes for the oil and natural gas industry, which closed down 4.83 percent to 74.8 pesos per share. Brazilian state-run energy firm Petrobras APBR.BA dropped 3.23 percent to 180 pesos.

Volume on the broad market was light at $29.9 million. Of the active issues, 58 declined, 7 advanced and 15 ended unchanged.

Meanwhile, government debt prices <AR/BONOS> fell 1.2 percent on average. The session’s losers were led by the peso-denominated Par bond, which dropped 2.1 percent.

The peso weakened 0.08 percent to close at 3.1550/3.1575 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.

On the other hand, in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= firmed the same percentage to 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; editing by Gary Crosse)

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