BUENOS AIRES, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks closed slightly lower on Friday, ending a year marked by volatility and the impact of a financial crisis stemming from credit worries in the U.S. subprime mortgage market.
The MerVal index .MERV of the 25 leading stocks slipped 0.76 percent to end at 2,151.73 points.
The market will be closed on Monday and Tuesday for the New Year holidays. It will reopen on Wednesday, but trading hours will have jumped forward an hour to compensate for daylight savings, which goes into effect on Sunday.
The new trading hours will be from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. local time (1400 to 2000 GMT), instead of from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daylight savings ends March 16 and will likely resume next October.
The MerVal rose about 3 percent during the year, cutting gains since hitting a record high in October as fallout from the global financial crisis expanded.
Among Friday’s biggest losers was energy group Pampa Holding PAM.BA, which shed 3.2 percent to end at 2.43 pesos.
“We had an unusual session as investment funds looked to close their annual positions, which meant share prices moved abruptly in the last minutes of trading,” said Dionisio Corneille, trader at a firm that bears his name.
On the broad market, volume was robust at $82 million and of active issues 35 advanced, 27 declined and 16 were unchanged.
Sovereign debt on the local market rose an average 0.2 percent on Friday, ending a year marked by risk aversion as investors worried about possible repercussions from a weakening U.S. economy.
JPMorgan’s EMBI+ bond index showed Argentine debt spreads at 407 basis points versus similar U.S. Treasuries. Spreads had narrowed to 180 basis points in early 2007 but many investors sold off Argentine debt due to global turbulence and concerns over possible tampering with local inflation data.
In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso closed flat at 3.1700/3.1725 per dollar ARSB=. The currency depreciated 2.6 percent in 2007, bucking the regional trend due to central bank intervention aimed at keeping exports competitive.
In formal interbank trade, where the central bank intervenes directly, the peso also ended unchanged at 3.1475/3.1500 per dollar ARS=RASL. In this market, the peso weakened 2.9 percent during the year. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; translating by Hilary Burke; Editing by Diane Craft)