January 7, 2009 / 9:05 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks sink after six sessions of gains

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks sank on Wednesday, ending a six-session winning streak as investors took profits in energy-related shares and the local bourse tracked Wall Street downward, traders said.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed 3.88 percent lower at 1,167.06, after gaining 17 percent in the six previous sessions.

“The MerVal reaccommodated itself with profit-taking spurred by the United States in light of poor jobs data. ... Today’s correction was led by the shares that had risen the most in recent days, like Brazil’s Petrobras and Tenaris,” said Dionisio Corneille, director of Corneille brokerage.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was trading down more than 3 percent when the MerVal closed, pressured by a grim U.S. private-sector jobs report, a revenue warning from top chip maker Intel Corp (INTC.O) and tumbling oil prices.

Brazilian and Mexican stocks were also sharply lower.

The MerVal’s losses were led by Brazilian state energy firm Petrobras APBR.BA, which shed 6.9 percent to end at 45.85 pesos a share in Buenos Aires.

Shares in index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA (TS.N), which makes steel tubes for the energy industry, fell 5.2 percent to 40.15 pesos. Tenaris accounts for more than one-third of the MerVal’s weighting.

Volume on the broad market was a modest $13.3 million. Of active shares, 21 rose, 43 fell and 13 were unchanged.

Locally traded Argentine bonds gained 1.3 percent on average in thin, over-the-counter trade, with the peso-denominated Par 2038 ARPARP=RASL jumping 3.8 percent to an ask price of 19.10.

Some longer-term bonds have gained as much as 25 percent in recent weeks on persistent rumors of a swap of “guaranteed loans” issued mainly to banks before the country’s 2002 default and of Boden 2012s ARBODEN12=RASL ARBODEN12D=RASL, for bonds with longer maturities.

Government officials have declined to comment.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso closed stable to weaker in thin trade, traders said.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses ARSB= as measured by Reuters, the peso slumped 0.35 percent to 3.5475/3.5525 per dollar, its lowest level since December 2002.

In formal interbank trade ARS=RASL, where the central bank intervenes nearly every day, the local currency was unchanged at 3.4525/3.4550 per dollar. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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