January 11, 2008 / 9:06 PM / 13 years ago

Argentine stocks inch down, peso stable

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed almost flat on Friday, bucking a regional falling trend due to a recovery in heavyweight Petrobras Participaciones PCH.BA, the local arm of Brazil’s state oil company.

The MerVal index .MERV was off just 0.07 percent to 2,082.93 points. On the broad market volume was modest at $33 million while 28 issues advanced, 30 declined and 24 were unchanged.

Petrobras Participaciones, weighted as 5.45 percent of the MerVal, rose 4.35 percent to 4.08 pesos per share, bouncing back somewhat after plunging almost 25 percent in two days after the company denied rumors of a share buyback.

“The Petrobras Participaciones rebound absorbed the losses of other heavyweights, such as Tenaris,” said Ruben Pascuali, trader at Mayoral Bursatil.

Tenaris TENA.BA, a leading global steel tube maker for the gas and oil industry, shed 1.7 percent to 62.2 pesos per share. Tenaris generally follows international crude prices, which dropped on Friday.

Sovereign bonds traded locally rose an average 0.8 percent, as investment money flowed into Argentina on expectations of an interest rate cut in the United States. The dollar-denominated Par bond rose 1.8 percent in over-the-counter trade.

The peso currency ended flat or slightly stronger, as the Central Bank absorbed dollars coming into the market from grain exporters. In formal interbank trade the peso closed at 3.1275/3.1300 per dollar ARS=RASL, unchanged from Thursday.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso firmed 0.08 percent to 3.1675/3.1700 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Translating by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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