June 13, 2008 / 8:55 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks rebound with banks, peso firms

BUENOS AIRES, June 13 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks ended a five-session losing streak on Friday as bank shares rebounded, buoyed by U.S. market gains, while bonds fell further and the peso kept firming.

The benchmark MerVal stocks index .MERV ended up 0.47 percent at 2,066.44 points, but marked its third straight week of losses. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed 1.37 percent higher on Friday.

“The MerVal was able to end higher as investors selectively snapped up bank shares, which had been among the hardest hit,” said Francisco Marra, a trader at Bull Markets Argentina brokerage.

The session’s gains were led by banking group Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA, which gained 3.75 percent to end at 1.66 pesos a share.

On Argentina’s broad market, volume was moderate at around $38 million. Of active issues, 43 advanced, 27 declined and 13 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, the Argentine peso closed firmer as state-owned banks led dollar sales on the market, traders said.

In formal interbank trade, the peso hit a 30-month high, gaining 0.41 percent to 3.0375/3.0400 per dollar ARS=RASL.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso strengthened 0.24 percent to 3.1200/3.1225 per dollar ARSB=, its strongest level since July 2007.

Government debt traded locally slumped an average 0.7 percent, with losses led by a 1.1 percent drop in dollar-denominated Discount bonds.

Bond purchases by state-run banks have averted deeper losses in recent weeks, traders said. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke)

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