BUENOS AIRES, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed with big gains on Friday, as telephone firm Telecom rose after higher-than-expected earnings, and Brazil's state energy company Petrobras got a boost from an oil find, traders said.
The MerVal index .MERV of 25 leading stocks ended up 2.26 percent at 2,314.23 points, close to the all-time intraday high of 2,354.73 points reached on Oct. 31.
Trade volume on the broad market was a hefty 218.2 million pesos ($68.9 million). Of active shares, 63 rose, 54 declined and 6 were unchanged.
"The abundant liquidity being injected by private pension funds allowed the MerVal to distance itself from turbulence in the U.S.," said Mariano Tavelli, trader with Tavelli and Company brokerage in Buenos Aires. Benchmark stock indexes fell in the U.S. on Friday.
Leading the gainers in Buenos Aires was Telecom (TEC2.BA), one of the country's leading telephone companies, which ended up 10.87 percent to 15.8 pesos per share after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter earnings.
Telecom is weighted as 4.46 percent of the MerVal index.
The discovery of a large oil deposit off Brazil lifted the locally listed shares of Petrobras APBR.BA 4.8 percent to 174.5 pesos per share, while the firm's local unit Petrobras Participaciones PCH.BA saw its stock gain 6.1 percent to 3.65 pesos.
In the debt market, Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> finished higher in a session marked by selective buying following the sharp losses of the prior day's trade when bonds took a hit as investors dumped risky emerging market assets.
Argentine sovereign debt has been especially affected by global concerns over a credit crunch in the U.S. housing market.
Leading bonds ended up by 0.2 percent on average. One of the biggest gainers was the dollar-denominated Discount paper, which rose 0.5 percent, while the losers were headed by the same peso-denominated bond. It fell 0.6 percent.
The peso currency ARSB= weakened 0.24 percent to end at 3.1625/3.165 per U.S. dollar in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters.
In formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes to keep the peso steady, the currency strengthened by 0.08 percent to 3.1275/3.13 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Translated by Helen Popper)