October 16, 2008 / 8:44 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks end flat after volatile session

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed flat on Thursday after trading mostly lower in a volatile session, helped by gains in energy-related shares as U.S. stocks surged, traders said.

The MerVal index of leading shares .MERV ended steady at 1,185.92, hovering near its lowest since November 2004. The index shed more than 12 percent on Wednesday, suffering its biggest one-day drop in 10 years, and is down 45 percent since the start of the year.

“We had a volatile day in which the MerVal recovered from session lows thanks to Tenaris and Petrobras,” said Augusto Farina, a trader at Amirante Galitis brokerage.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed up 4.68 percent on Thursday after falling by a similar amount earlier in the session.

In Argentina, gains were seen in the local unit of Brazil’s Petrobras, Petrobras Energia Participaciones PCH.BA, which surged 16.3 percent to 2.85 pesos a share, and in Tenaris TENA.BA, which rose 2.5 percent to 37.55 pesos a share.

Trade volume on the broad stock market totaled a brisk $40.1 million. Of active shares, 49 declined, 15 advanced and 15 were unchanged.

On the currency market, the Argentine peso slumped a further 1.06 percent to end at 3.32/3.325 per U.S. dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as tracked by Reuters,

In formal trade between banks ARS=RASL, where the central bank intervenes directly, the peso slipped 0.16 percent against the dollar to 3.2025/3.205.

Argentine bonds traded locally kept falling on Thursday, shedding 3.3 percent on average in over-the-counter trade.

The biggest losses among the most liquid bonds were seen in dollar-denominated, 2033 Discount paper ARDISCD=RASL, which sank 4.1 percent, according to the ask price.

Local debt prices are down around 25 percent since Oct. 1 amid global market turmoil.

Argentine debt spreads were unchanged at 1,334 basis points above comparable U.S. Treasuries, according to the JPMorgan emerging markets bond index 11EMJ. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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