February 8, 2008 / 9:07 PM / in 12 years

Argentina stocks fall for fourth consecutive session

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell for the fourth consecutive session on Friday to their lowest close in two weeks on persistent fears over the repercussions of a potential recession in the United States.

The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks shed 0.91 percent to 1,992.62 points, accumulating a 4.41 percent drop over the last four sessions.

“The MerVal broke the psychological support level at 2,000 points and this deepens the market’s fall, especially of issues with good liquidity,” said a broker.

The losers were led by the steelmaker Acindar ACI.BA with a 4.93 percent drop to 5.01 pesos per share and natural gas transporter TGS TGS2.BA down 4.78 percent to 3.20 pesos.

“The market remains linked to trends in external markets and this will continue so long as the economic situation in the United States is not clarified,” said Augusto Farina, a trader at the Almirante Galitis brokerage.

Recession fears in the United States have intensified in the last few weeks after the publication of weak financial data for the leading global economy.

Volume on the broad market was valued at a low $14.9 million, with 17 issues advancing, 42 retreating and 17 unchanged.

On the local debt market, Argentine sovereign bonds <AR/BONOS> closed 2.0 percent down on average, hit by lower-than-expected January inflation reported a day earlier.

The government reported January inflation of 0.9 percent, compared to a median market outlook of 1.2 percent. Some 40 percent of Argentine domestic debt is linked to the inflation index.

The losses were led by peso-denominated Disc bonds, dropping 4.9 percent, and Par bonds denominated in dollars, falling 4.4 percent.

The peso currency ARS=RASL closed stable at 3.1675/3.1700 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= firmed 0.16 percent to end at 3.1675/3.1700 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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