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

Argentine stocks fall with crude in regional slump

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Friday, pressured by market losses throughout the region and lower U.S. crude oil futures, both of which stemmed from the release of poor jobs data in the United States, traders said.

Argentina’s energy-heavy, benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed down 1.08 percent at 1,179.55, cutting gains chalked up since Jan. 1 to around 9 percent.

“The MerVal reflected the circular fears buzzing around the U.S. economy after the jobs data was released, which affected oil prices,” said Claudio Szlaien, an analyst at Marlon Recursos Financieros.

“This had a direct impact on Tenaris and dragged the MerVal downward,” he added

Index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA, which makes steel tubes for the energy industry and often moves along with crude prices, sank 3.6 percent to 40.50 pesos a share. Tenaris accounts for more than one-third of the MerVal’s weighting.

Volume on the broad market was a modest $11 million. Of active shares, 24 rose, 23 fell and 14 were unchanged.

Locally traded Argentine bonds slipped for a second straight day after making steady gains in recent weeks, falling 0.4 percent on average in over-the-counter trade as investors continued taking profits, traders said.

Losses were led by the dollar-denominated Boden 2014 ARBODEN14D=RASL, which shed 4.8 percent to an ask price of 11.90.

“The yields are very attractive but institutional investors remain reticent about having too many holdings in local bonds,” a debt trader said.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso closed stable to firmer on demand from exporters and despite the central bank’s purchase of dollars, traders said.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses ARSB= as measured by Reuters, the peso gained 0.14 percent to 3.53/3.535 to the dollar, hovering near its weakest since December 2002.

In formal interbank trade ARS=RASL, where the central bank intervenes nearly daily, it was unchanged at 3.4475/3.45 per dollar. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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