November 25, 2008 / 9:12 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks inch higher, bonds get a boost

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed slightly higher on Tuesday in a volatile session in which buyers snapped up shares at the last minute, traders said.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV closed up 0.49 percent at 906.39 points after jumping 8.8 percent a day earlier. Stocks fell as far as 1.35 percent earlier on Tuesday.

“The session reflected the ups and downs of a volatile day on Wall Street,” said Jorge Alberti, an analyst at online brokerage

The MerVal has shed 10.4 percent of its value since Nov.1 and 58 percent since the start of the year.

Tuesday’s gains were led by Telecom Argentina TEC2.BA (TEO.N), which jumped 12.6 percent to 5.46 pesos a share.

On the broad market, volume was a moderate $32 million.

More than 70 percent of the day’s trade was in Tenaris shares TENA.BA (TS.N). Shares in the maker of steel tubes for the energy industry fell 4.8 percent to 33 pesos in Buenos Aires, a day after surging more than 18 percent.

Of active issues, 16 advanced, 34 declined and 10 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, locally-traded government bonds rose 2.7 percent on average in over-the-counter trade, according to the ask price, in a third straight session of gains.

The dollar-denominated Boden 2014 ARBODEN14D=RASL led gains, surging 5 percent from Monday’s close.

Bonds got a boost from a newly announced government plan to offer tax breaks to companies that hire more staff and offer formal employment to off-the-books workers. It would also encourage Argentines to bring home funds they keep abroad to invest in bonds and infrastructure or other projects.

“There’s no doubt the repatriation announced by the government buoyed the price of bonds but I don’t think that’s the only factor since the biggest buyer (in the market) continues to be the state,” Alberti said.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso weakened 0.07 percent against the dollar to 3.3375/3.34 ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade. The currency slipped by the same amount to 3.3750/3.38 per dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters.

The central bank intervenes in the foreign exchange market nearly every day to stabilize the peso’s value. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Diane Craft)

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