December 11, 2008 / 9:17 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks boosted by oil prices; peso mixed

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks gained for a seventh straight session on Thursday as rising global oil prices boosted energy-related shares.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV rose 2.71 percent to close at 1,089.65 points. On the broad market volume was light at $16.6 million and of active issues 39 advanced, 11 declined and 20 were unchanged.

“The oil sector again helped the MerVal to rise,” said Diego Zabaletta, a trader at the Besfamiglie brokerage.

Oil surged more than 10 percent on Thursday, settling at nearly $48 a barrel after the president of OPEC called for more production cuts and the dollar feel to a seven-week low against the euro.

On the MerVal, index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA, the world’s leading producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry, rose 3.74 percent to 36.1 pesos.

Buenos Aires-listed shares of Brazilian oil company Petrobras APBR.BA, gained 5.4 percent to 41 pesos. Petrobras’ local unit, Petrobras Energia Participaciones PCH.BA also rose, climbing 6.88 percent to 2.33 pesos.

Argentine debt traded on the local market fell 1.1 percent on average in light trade as investors pocketed profits after two consecutive sessions of gains.

The dollar-denominated Par bond ARPARP=RASL shed 3.4 percent to lead losers.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso gained as the central bank intervened heavily with an eye toward the real currency in neighboring Brazil, traders said.

In formal trade between banks the peso currency rose 0.22 percent to 3.4075/3.41 per dollar ARS=RASL, reducing its losses for the month 1.03 percent after falling last week to lows last seen in January 2002.

In trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso shed 0.29 percent to 3.47/3.475 per dollar ARSB=.

“The central bank keeps managing the market to its criteria,” said one trader who asked not to be named. “It seems like it wants to keep the peso in line with what happens with the Brazilian real.”

Brazil is Argentina’s biggest trade partner, and the recent weakening of the real led Argentine business leaders to call for a devaluation of the peso to help keep the country’s exports competitive.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi, Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Chris Reese

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