May 28, 2008 / 9:52 PM / in 12 years

Argentine stocks rise on Petrobras; peso gains

BUENOS AIRES, May 28 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed higher on Wednesday, boosted by global oil prices, but market sentiment was cautious after farmers launched their third strike in two months over export taxes.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV rose 0.84 percent to close at 2,233.41 points after falling 0.71 percent earlier in the session.

Locally listed shares of Brazilian state-run energy company Petrobras APBR.BA led gainers, rising 3.27 to 118.5 pesos, followed by index heavyweight and steelmaker Tenaris TENA.BA, the world’s leading producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry. Tenaris shares closed 1.76 percent higher at 98.5 pesos.

“The MerVal reacted thanks to shares linked to oil, but the shares linked to the local economy reflected the domestic tensions,” said Horacio Corneille, head of Corneille brokerage.

Volume was a light $20.8 million on the broad market, where 38 issues declined, 37 advanced and 16 ended unchanged.

Farmers began holding back their grains for export, hoping to renew pressure on the government to repeal a sliding-scale tax system that links export taxes to global commodity prices. Farm exports are a key foreign currency earner.

Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> rose, pushed higher by purchases from state-run banks, and climbed 0.5 percent on average on the domestic market, led by a 1.9 percent rise in the peso-denominated Par bond.

Heavy intervention by the central bank continued to help the peso currency strengthen against the U.S. dollar, traders said.

The peso rose 0.32 percent to 3.1975/3.20 per U.S. dollar ARSB= in informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters. In formal interbank trade, the peso also gained 0.32 percent to 3.115/3.1175 per dollar ARS=RASL. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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