January 25, 2008 / 9:58 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks inch higher, peso firms

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed slightly stronger on Friday, as investors remained optimistic over a stimulus plan aimed at helping the U.S. economy avert a recession.

The MerVal index .MERV of 42 leading companies closed 0.82 percent higher at 1,982.73 points after gaining as much as 2.16 percent in early trading.

Friday’s session ended a volatile week on the MerVal amid global market turbulence. The index recorded a 0.99 percent cumulative loss over the five days.

“We have had a price adjustment that has left the market cautious. Although it has risen thanks to external markets, the profit taking has been heavy after recent lows,” said Guido Macchi, a trader at Julio Macchi.

On the broad market, volume was $34.7 million. Sixty 60 issues advanced, 37 retreated and 10 remained unchanged.

Banco Macro (BMA.BA) rose 4.46 percent to 7.49 pesos, buoyed by gains in the prices of Argentine bonds, which are held by some banks in Argentina. Petrobras Brazil shares traded in Argentina APBR.BA also rose 1.85 percent to 165 pesos.

Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> rose on the domestic market, ending 0.4 percent higher on average, led by the Boden 14 bonds denominated in pesos and dollars.

Traders said bonds with high liquidity were sought by institutional investors who were bargain hunting after recent losses.

The peso strengthened. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the currency ARSB= firmed 0.16 percent, ending at 3.1775/3.18 per dollar.

In formal interbank trade, the peso ARS=RASL strengthened 0.16 percent to close at 3.1475/3.15. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Gaspard Sebag; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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