September 23, 2008 / 10:00 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks sag as global oil prices fall

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed lower on Tuesday as investors sold off energy-related shares after global crude oil prices fell.

The MerVal index of leading shares .MERV ended 2 percent lower at 1,656.6 points, ending three straight sessions of gains that boosted the market 13.3 percent.

The MerVal also shed ground late in the session as global markets slipped on worries that wrangling in the U.S. Congress could delay a $700 billion bailout plan to help the ailing American economy.

“The fall in energy-related shares affected the MerVal,” said Agustin Trella, an analyst at Puente Hermanos.

Index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA(TS.N), the world’s leading producer of seamless steel tubes for the oil industry, fell 7.87 percent to 71.4 pesos.

Buenos Aires-listed shares of Brazil’s state-run energy company Petrobras APBR.BA(PETR4.SA) shed 6.75 percent to 70.4 pesos.

Oil prices fell 2.5 percent on Tuesday, reversing direction after Monday’s dramatic rally as dealers focused on slowing global energy demand and doubts over a U.S. plan to rescue the financial sector.

On the Argentine debt market, locally traded government bonds fell 1.4 percent on average in over-the-counter trade as investors pocketed profits from recent gains after the government said it is studying a proposal to reach a deal with “holdout” creditors who rejected a 2005 debt swap.

The announcement by President Cristina Fernandez on Monday lifted bond prices.

The peso-denominated Disc bond lost 2.6 percent ARDISC=RASL.

The peso, which is heavily controlled by the Central Bank, closed flat at 3.0975/3.1000 per dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso weakened 0.24 percent to 3.1475/3.15 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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