May 26, 2008 / 9:18 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks inch higher, led by Petrobras

BUENOS AIRES, May 26 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed slightly higher in light trade on Monday, as high global crude prices boosted shares in the local listing of Brazil’s state-run energy company Petrobras.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV inched 0.19 percent higher to close at 2,239.38 points after shedding 0.98 percent earlier in the session.

Volume was a slack $6.9 million on the broad market, where 24 issues advanced, 29 declined and 10 ended unchanged.

Traders were watching a standoff between the government and farm leaders who are locked in a two-month dispute over grains export taxes that has raised fears of a prolonged political conflict.

The government called off talks with farmers scheduled for Monday, a day after farm leaders held a rally of some 200,000 people.

Shares of Petrobras APBR.BA(PETR4.SA) rose 3.39 percent to 122 pesos.

Local trading in Argentine government bonds was largely inactive because of the Memorial Day holiday in the United States, traders said.

The peso currency gained 0.31 percent to 3.2125/3.2150 per U.S. dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters. In formal interbank trade the peso shed 0.16 percent to 3.1375/3.1400 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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