(Updates with quote, details; closing prices)
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed at a three-month low on Monday, falling for a fifth straight session and mirroring losses in bourses regionwide fueled by investor worries over the U.S. economy, traders said.
The MerVal index .MERV of the 25 leading stocks sank 2.62 percent to end at 2,127.21 points, showing losses similar to those battering stocks in Brazil, Mexico and Chile.
“The MerVal was clearly influenced by the poor international context, and investors did not find the local elements needed to stave off the external onslaught,” said Leopoldo Olivari, a trader at Bacque brokerage.
Broad market volume was a robust 224 million pesos, or $71 million, and of active issues 94 declined, 15 advanced and 16 closed flat.
Leisure group Comercial del Plata (COM.BA) led the MerVal’s losses, shedding 7.3 percent to end at 0.621 peso per share.
U.S. stocks tumbled on worries the country’s housing slump was hurting the economy while inflation posed an increasingly nettlesome problem.
“The global slump gives the impression that the Fed (U.S. Federal Reserve) has fewer and fewer ways to restore credit conditions,” said Hernan Labrone, an analyst at Fenix Compania Financiera, referring to fallout from a credit crunch in the U.S. subprime mortgage market.
As inflation concerns grow, the Fed is unlikely to keep cutting interest rates. Lower U.S. interest rates tend to boost the allure of riskier but more profitable emerging market assets.
Uncertainty on the U.S. economy also hit Argentine government bond prices, which fell an average 1.2 percent on the domestic market. The “Disc” bond denominated in pesos was the worst hit, shedding 2.2 percent.
The peso currency, which is regulated by the central bank, closed 0.08 percent firmer at 3.1375/3.1400 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso firmed the same amount to 3.1625/3.1650 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke)