November 15, 2007 / 9:20 PM / 13 years ago

Argentina stocks fall after fuel export tax raised

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Thursday, as investors sold oil company shares after the government announced a rise in fuel export taxes, while bonds slumped on profit-taking, traders said.

The MerVal index .MERV of the 25 leading stocks ended down 1.79 percent at 2,268.07 points, dragged lower by Brazil’s Petrobras APBR.BA, the shares of which sank 7.14 percent to 156 pesos per share in Buenos Aires.

Argentine stocks were also pressured by losses on Wall Street later in the session, traders said.

“The rise in export taxes on oil hit energy companies and created a bad business climate in general,” said Mariano Tavelli, a broker at Tavelli y Compania brokerage.

“It was already a bad day, but at the close it got worse due to a new, sharp drop in the U.S. market,” he added.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 0.91 percent in its unofficial close.

Volume on Argentina’s broad market shrank to a moderate 111.6 million pesos ($35.3 million). Of active issues, 17 advanced, 56 declined and 10 were unchanged.

The Argentine arm of Brazil’s Petrobras, Petrobras Energia Participaciones PCH.BA, shed 4.13 percent to end at 3.48 pesos. And unit Petrobras Energia PER.BA fell 4.44 percent to 8.6 pesos per share.

On the domestic bond market, sovereign prices fell 1.6 percent on average <AR/BONOS> as investors took profits after recent gains.

The Par bond in dollars was the biggest loser, shedding 3.9 percent in over-the-counter trade.

Argentina’s debt spreads over comparable U.S. Treasuries widened 30 basis points to 403 basis points on JPMorgan’s EMBI+ bond index 11EMJ, after U.S. Treasuries surged as investors made another dash to safe-haven government bonds.

The peso currency firmed 0.16 percent to 3.1550/3.1575 per U.S. dollar in informal trade between foreign exchange houses ARSB=, as measured by Reuters.

In formal interbank trade, the peso also strengthened 0.16 percent to close at 3.1225/3.1250 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Translation by Hilary Burke)

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