May 12, 2008 / 9:48 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks tick higher on energy shares

BUENOS AIRES, May 12 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rallied on Monday, pushed higher by late gains in energy-related shares, while bonds slipped over a continuing strike by Argentine farmers, traders said.

The MerVal index .MERV of leading stocks closed up 0.51 percent to 2,125.36 points, accumulating a gain of 1.5 percent over the last three sessions despite jitters over continued protests by farmers opposed to an export tax.

Volume on the broad market swelled to a moderate $32 million and of active issues, 47 advanced, 24 declined and 11 were unchanged.

“Although the MerVal ended in positive territory, it doesn’t completely capture the session’s overall tendency,” said Claudio Szlaien, an analyst with Marlon Recursos Financieros.

He added banking shares had been hit throughout the session because of investors concerns about a weakening trend in the currency, the peso, in recent days.

On the MerVal, heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA, the top producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry, surged 5.01 percent to 91.25 pesos per share.

Leading Argentine banking conglomerate Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA fell 3.06 percent to 1.9 pesos.

Savers’ purchases of dollars continued to pressure the peso, but central bank intervention helped keep the local currency stable, traders said.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, it was virtually unchanged at 3.2725/3.2750 per dollar <ARSB=.

In formal interbank trade — where the central bank intervenes directly — it ended flat at to 3.175/3.1775 per dollar ARS=RASL.

The farming protests, which began on Thursday, continued to feed the cautious mood in the debt market, with locally traded bonds <AR/BONOS> falling by 0.2 percent on average due to profit-taking of gains racked up earlier in the session.

Peso-denominated Discount bonds fell 0.4 percent in over-the-counter trade while the same bond in dollars rose by the same margin. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Diane Craft)

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