BUENOS AIRES, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rebounded on Thursday, buoyed by gains in energy-related shares despite a downturn in U.S. crude futures, traders said.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed 2.17 percent higher at 1,192.44, racking up a 10.4 percent gain since Jan. 1.
"The market rose today thanks to Tenaris and Brazil's Petrobras, the two stocks that took the worst hit yesterday (Wednesday) but were the pillars of the MerVal's gains today," said Ruben Pascuali, a trader at Mayoral Bursatil.
Traders said investors keep betting on energy-related shares despite three days of losses in U.S. crude oil futures.
Index heavyweight Tenaris (TENA.BA), which makes steel tubes for the energy industry, jumped 4.6 percent to 42.00 pesos a share. Tenaris accounts for more than one-third of the MerVal's weighting.
Shares in Brazilian state energy firm Petrobras APBR.BA rose 3.6 percent to end at 47.50 pesos in Buenos Aires.
Volume on the broad market was a modest $15.3 million. Of active shares, 23 rose, 39 fell and 14 were unchanged.
Locally traded Argentine bonds slipped after making steady gains in recent days, falling 0.4 percent on average in over-the-counter trade as investors took profits, traders said.
Losses were led by the dollar-denominated 2033 Discount bond ARDISCD=RASL and the dollar-denominated 2038 Par ARPARD=RASL, both of which sank by 1.4 percent, according to the ask price.
On the foreign exchange market, the peso firmed slightly in a session in which the central bank did not intervene -- contrary to its usual practice -- and private banks and exporters traded in their greenbacks for the local currency, traders said.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses ARSB= as measured by Reuters, the peso gained 0.35 percent against the dollar to 3.535/3.54, which is still its weakest level since December 2002.
In formal interbank trade ARS=RASL, where the central bank intervenes nearly every day, the local currency strengthened 0.14 percent to 3.4475/3.45 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)