March 19, 2008 / 8:59 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks slide as commodity prices tumble

BUENOS AIRES, March 19 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks slumped on Wednesday as oil-related shares fell amid a sharp fall in international crude oil prices and other raw materials.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed down 3.24 percent to 2,014.06 points, with Tenaris, Petrobras Particip

“The sharp drop of raw materials, especially oil” affected the MerVal, said Marcelo Paccione, an analyst at ConsultCapital brokerage.

Many of the MerVal’s heavyweights are linked to raw materials.

U.S. crude oil futures slid more than $6 a barrel after worries about the economy overshadowed bullish weekly data.

The MerVal followed a part of Wall Street’s fall as a sharp drop in commidity prices hit shares of natural resources companies and investors sold stocks to take profit after Tuesday’s U.S. Federal Reserve-aided rally.

In Argentina, the session’s losers were led by Brazil’s Petrobras APBR.BA, which plumetted 8.82 percent to 156.7 pesos.

Index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA, a top global producer of steel tubes for the natural gas and oil industry, which shed 6.93 percent to 72.5 pesos per share, and Petrobras Energia Participaciones PCH.BA, a branch of Brazil’s Petrobras, which stooped 6.38 percent to 3.37 pesos.

On the broad market, volume was a healthy $41.1 million. Of the active issues, 53 declined, 17 advanced and 16 ended unchanged.

Meanwhile, government debt prices <AR/BONOS> were unchanged, with the peso-denominated Discount bond gaining 0.3 percent, and the Par bond also denominated in pesos, dropping 0.8 percent.

The peso EURCC=RASL hit a fifth historic low in a row against the European currency in the informal market, ending at 4.98/5.08 pesos per euro.

Against the dollar, the peso weakened 0.32 percent to 3.1550/3.1575 ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade, where the central bank normally intervenes.

While, in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= firmed 0.31 percent to 3.1725/3.1750 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag)

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