BUENOS AIRES, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rallied on Tuesday, driven by gains in external markets following billionaire investor Warren Buffett's offer to take on $800 billion in municipal bond risk from three top bond insurers.
The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks rose 1.64 percent to 2,034.13 points.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended up nearly 1.1 percent on Tuesday.
"The improvement of the global context gave stimulus to the MerVal, which rose selectively," said Augusto Farina, a broker at Almirante Galitis brokerage.
The session's winners were led by steelmaker Acindar ACI.BA with a 3.99 percent rise to 5.21 pesos per share, following Monday's completion of a share acquisition by the company's majority stakeholder, ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS.
After the market close, Acindar announced a 21 percent drop in net earnings for 2007 to 476.6 million pesos.
Volume on the broad market totaled $21.7 million, with 52 issues advancing, 23 retreating and 8 unchanged.
"Low transaction volume was due to institutional investor caution pending the announcement of retail sales in the United States on Wednesday," Farina added.
On the local debt market, Argentine sovereign bonds <AR/BONOS> closed up 1.0 percent on average.
The gainers were led by dollar-denominated Par bonds, which rose 1.6 percent, and the dollar-denominated Disc bonds, which ended up 1.1 percent.
The peso currency ARS=RASL firmed 0.16 percent to end at 3.1600/3.1625 per dollar in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= weakened 0.16 percent to end at 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Leslie Adler)