February 15, 2008 / 9:20 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks dip on U.S. economy worries

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed slightly lower on Friday, pressured by losses in external markets due to weak economic indicators in the United States.

The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading stocks closed down 0.13 percent at 2,039.09 points.

The index ended the week up 2.33 percent, but it has fallen 5.23 percent since the start of the year.

The New York Federal Reserve’s business conditions index, which gauges manufacturing in New York state, posted its biggest monthly drop in February to the weakest level since April 2003. And U.S. consumer sentiment fell sharply in early February to levels associated with previous recessions.

“The decline on Wall Street complicated the session locally,” said Francisco Marra, an analyst at Bull Markets Brokers.

“The fall was led by power companies such as Edenor and Pampa Holding, but heavy buying of Banco Macro and Grupo Financiero Galicia shares cushioned the MerVal’s fall,” he said.

The sessions losers were led by energy companies Edenor EDN.BA, down 3.15 percent to 3.07 pesos, and Pampa Holding PAM.BA, down 1.32 percent to 2.25 pesos per share.

At the same time, Banco Macro (BMA.BA) jumped 4.17 percent to 7.5 pesos and Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA rose 0.46 percent to 2.18 pesos.

Volume on the broad market totaled $37.2 million, of which about $18.6 million corresponded to Cedears, or foreign companies’ shares traded in Buenos Aires, with 32 issues advancing overall, 37 retreating and 9 unchanged.

On the local debt market, Argentina’s main sovereign bonds <AR/BONOS> closed 0.5 percent lower on average.

The losers were led by dollar-denominated Par bonds, which fell 1.5 percent, and the Disc bonds, also denominated in dollars, which shed 0.9 percent.

The peso currency ARS=RASL firmed 0.16 percent to end at 3.1500/3.1525 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= closed stable at 3.1750/3.1775 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; editing by Leslie Adler)

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