September 9, 2008 / 8:57 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks slide to two-year low, bonds fall

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks plunged 4.38 percent on Tuesday to their lowest point in two years, pressured by falling oil prices and Wall Street’s losses, while bonds slumped on profit-taking, traders said.

The benchmark MerVal .MERV index closed down at 1,595.07 points, the lowest level since Sept. 11, 2006. The index has fallen 9.27 percent in the last four sessions, deepening losses since the start of the year to 25.87 percent.

Energy-related stocks bore the brunt of the sell-off as crude oil prices fell, briefly slipping below $100 per barrel in London for the first time in five months.

“The weakness of crude oil continued to pressure the MerVal through Petrobras APBR.BA and Tenaris TENA.BA,” said Claudio Szlaien, an analyst at Marlon Financial Resources.

Energy-linked companies account for 36 percent of the MerVal, led by Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run energy company, and Tenaris, the world’s largest producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry. Petrobras fell 8.9 percent and Tenaris fell 7.5 percent.

Steep losses on Wall Street .DJI added to the gloom.

“The markets had another black Tuesday,” one trader said.

Trade volume on the broad market was a modest $34 million. Of active shares, 70 retreated, 27 advanced, and 8 were unchanged.

On the local debt market, Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> closed down on average by 1.5 percent in over-the-counter trade due to profit-taking after Monday’s average gain of 1.1 percent.

Trade was cautious ahead of the release of August’s inflation figure on Wednesday. About 40 percent of Argentina’s debt is inflation-indexed and the government is widely accused of downplaying consumer price data.

Among the day’s biggest losers was dollar-denominated Disc bonds ARDISCD=RASL, which slumped by 2.8 percent.

The peso ended weaker in interbank trade ARS=RASL, falling 0.25 percent to 3.055/3.0575 per dollar — its weakest level in three months — due to the strength of the greenback, traders said.

At the same time, the peso shed 0.32 percent to end at 3.08/3.0825 ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters. That marked a one-month low. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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