BUENOS AIRES, July 24 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Thursday for a third consecutive session, mirroring losses in global markets, while bonds ended lower on profit-taking, traders said.
The MerVal benchmark stock index .MERV closed down 2.0 percent at 1,901.88 points, extending its losses in July to 9.77 percent and 11.61 percent since the start of the year.
"The underlying reason for the MerVal's decline was the sharp loss in U.S. stocks, along with the persistent commodities losses," said Marcelo Paccione, an analyst at ConsultCapital.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials .DJI slid 2.43 percent on disappointing economic news, while Brazil's Bovespa .BVSP shed 3.34 percent.
The biggest losers in Buenos Aires included food producer and grains exporter Molinos Rio de la Plata (MOL.BA), which fell 4.94 percent to 8.65 pesos per share and steelmaker Socotherm SOC.BA, which ended down 4.82 percent at 14.8 pesos.
Trade volume on the MerVal shrank to a thin $16.6 million. Of active shares, 47 retreated, 13 advanced and 10 were unchanged.
Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> fell on profit-taking following the recent price recovery linked to the end of a four-month farming conflict, traders said.
Locally traded debt closed down by an average of 1.1 percent in over-the-counter trade, led by the peso-denominated Par bond, which plunged 2.3 percent ARPARD=RASL.
On the foreign exchange market, the peso held steady as the central bank mopped up greenbacks being sold by private investors, traders said.
In formal interbank trade, where the central bank regularly intervenes, the peso ARS=RASL closed flat at 3.015/3.0175 per dollar.
In informal trade between foreign-exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= it slipped 0.16 percent to 3.065/3.0675 per dollar. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Helen Popper; editing by Gary Crosse)