September 11, 2008 / 5:06 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine peso ends steady as central bank sells dollars

(Updates with close, adds bonds and stocks)

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Argentina’s peso currency ended almost stable on Thursday as central bank intervention limited its slide amid global market jitters that also hit government bonds, traders said.

In formal trade between banks, where the central bank normally buys or sells dollars to keep the local currency steady, the peso closed down just 0.16 percent at 3.0775/3.08 per dollar ARS=RASL.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, it weakened by 0.24 percent to 3.1175/3.1225 per dollar ARSB=, after shedding as much as 1.34 percent earlier in the session to its weakest level since May 30.

The peso took a beating early in the session as fears over the global economic climate fueled demand for safe-haven dollars, traders said.

“Today it wasn’t enough for the central bank to sell dollars on the futures market and it had to step in to sell greenbacks in the spot market,” said Fernando Izzo, an analyst at the ABC Mercado de Cambios exchange house.

The dollar rose to a one-year high against a basket of global currencies as investors dumped overseas assets.

Greater aversion to risker emerging markets also hit the local debt market and Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> closed down on average by 1.6 percent in over-the-counter trade, their third consecutive loss.

Among the day’s biggest losers was the peso-denominated Disc bonds ARDISCP=RASL, which slumped by 3.6 percent.

The benchmark MerVal .MERV stock index fared better, finishing up 0.52 percent at 1,613.24 points in light trade due largely to gains by energy-related stocks.

Steelmaker and index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA, the world’s top producer of seamless steel pipes for the energy industry, rose 5.02 percent to 71.1 pesos per share.

Trade volume on the broad market was a slack $21 million. Of active shares, 49 retreated, 27 advanced, and 11 were unchanged. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Helen Popper)

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