November 27, 2008 / 9:57 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks close higher in slim volume

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed higher on Thursday for the fourth day in a row in a session marked by scant trade due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended up 1.8 percent at 972.03 points, accumulating a gain of 17.25 percent this week.

“The MerVal continued gaining ground thanks to a boost from external markets and the government’s plan to have people repatriate their money to invest in government bonds, which buoyed banking shares,” said Francisco Marra, a trader at Bull Markets Brokers.

President Cristina Fernandez this week unveiled a plan to protect jobs and economic activity offering tax breaks to companies that retain and hire new workers, and to Argentines who bring home funds they have stashed abroad for investments in government bonds and infrastructure or other projects.

Argentine banks are major holders of government bonds, and shares in financial group Grupo Financiero Galicia GFG.BA GGAL.O led the MerVal’s gains, jumping 7.33 percent to 0.644 pesos a share in Buenos Aires.

On the broad market, volume was paltry at $3.9 million. Of active issues, 36 advanced, 10 declined and 15 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, there was virtually no trading done in the local bond market due to the U.S. holiday, traders said.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso weakened 0.3 percent against the dollar to 3.3550/3.36 ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade. The currency slipped 0.44 percent to 3.4050/3.41 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 and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by David Gregorio)

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