January 27, 2010 / 9:37 PM / 11 years ago

Argentine stocks, bonds weaker on central bank row

* Stocks, bonds, peso weaker on central bank tension

* Investors waiting for Congress commission to conclude

* Cenbank’s Redrado addresses commission (Updates with closing prices)

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Argentine financial markets closed lower on Wednesday in light trade due to investor caution over an ongoing dispute between the president and the head of the central bank.

A special congressional commission is debating President Cristina Fernandez’s decision to fire Central Bank chief Martin Redrado for blocking her order to use $6.6 billion in foreign currency reserves to repay debt.

Redrado went to Congress on Wednesday afternoon to address the commission. Investors are waiting for the commission to give its opinion, which though non-binding, could signal an end to the leadership crisis at the bank. For details see [ID:nN26106007]

“Political issues continue to affect the market and this is seen through the light volume even though most people assume that Redrado won’t go back to the Central Bank,” one trader said.

The benchmark MerVal .MERV stocks index fell 0.13 percent to 2,306.21 for a sixth straight loss.

Among the biggest losers was Telecom Argentina TEC2.BA which closed down 2.7 percent to 12.55 pesos per share due to uncertainty about the company’s future.

Argentina’s government threatened to nationalize the company last week as it pressures Telecom Italia to sell its holdings in the leading local phone company.

Government bonds trading over the counter in Buenos Aires fell by an average of 1.1 percent. Peso-denominated Disc paper ARDISCP=RASL sank 2.7 percent. The dollar-denominated Boden 2014 ARBODEN14D=RASL shed 1.47 percent.

“The market’s waiting for the congressional commission’s decision,” said Hernan Labrone, an analyst for consulting firm Fenix Compania Financiera, adding that global economic jitters were also weighing on the local market.

The risk spread on Argentine bonds widened by 7 basis points to 746 basis points over comparable U.S. Treasuries, according to the benchmark J.P. Morgan Emerging Market Bond Index 11EMJ.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso closed down 0.32 percent to its lowest level since June 2009 ending at 3.8950/3.90 per U.S. dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters.

In formal interbank trade, the peso closed flat at 3.8125/3.8150 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi; Writing by Luis Andres Henao; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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