BUENOS AIRES, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks slipped on Tuesday in a fourth straight session of losses, tracking Wall Street, which fell on weak U.S. housing and economic data, traders said.
The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended 0.69 percent lower at 1,038.31 points. The index has shed around 52 percent since the start of the year due to the impact of a global financial crisis.
Trade volume was meager at $4.7 million. Of active issues, 28 advanced, 35 declined and 11 were unchanged.
"We continue to depend on volatility in external markets, with very little trade. The lack of volume means the MerVal changes direction very easily," said Francisco Marra, a trader at Bull Market Brokers.
Tuesday's losses were led by petrochemical company Indupa INU.BA, whose shares shed 6.8 percent to end at 2.05 pesos.
The stock market will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday for the Christmas holiday, and will resume trading on Friday.
On the local market, sovereign bonds gained for a fifth consecutive session in over-the-counter trade, rising 1.3 percent on average with the dollar-denominated Bonar 2017 ARBONAR17D=RASL up 3 percent to an ask price of 33.90.
On the foreign exchange market, the peso closed mixed, weakening 0.29 percent to 3.4325/3.4350 per U.S. dollar in formal interbank trade ARS=RASL.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso firmed by the same percentage to close at 3.445/3.450 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Dan Grebler)