October 23, 2007 / 4:20 AM / 13 years ago

Argentina stocks slip on banking losses, bonds down

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed with minimal losses on Monday despite gains on regional markets, dragged down by heavy selling in the banking sector after bonds fell, traders said.

Investors dumped bank shares following losses on the bond market, favoring liquid assets in the run-up to Sunday’s presidential election. Argentine banks are some of the biggest holders of Argentine debt.

The MerVal index .MERV of 25 leading stocks dipped just 0.09 percent to close at 2,234.66 points, accumulating a loss of 1.57 percent in the last two sessions.

“There was a great deal of volatility, leaving us with a selective market in which bank paper stood out as particularly weak once bonds slipped,” said Hernan Labrone, an analyst with Fenix Financial company.

Shares of Banco Macro (BMA.BA) (BMA.N) fell 3.46 percent to 9.2 pesos per share, while BBVA Banco Frances FRA.BA lost 2.04 percent, closing at 9.6 pesos per share.

Trade volume on the broad stock market totaled a heavy 127.2 million pesos ($40 million). Of active shares, 25 advanced, 55 declined and 15 were unchanged.

Bond prices on the local market dipped 0.4 percent on average, hit by lingering concerns about U.S. economic health <AR/BONOS>.

The session’s losses were led by dollar-denominated Par bonds, which slipped 1.8 percent.

The peso currency also lost ground as traders stocked up on dollars ahead of Sunday’s vote.

The peso weakened 0.08 percent to 3.2075/3.2100 per dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters.

In formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes to keep the peso from appreciating, the currency gave up 0.24 percent to close at 3.1675/3.1700 per dollar ARS=RASL.

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