April 29, 2008 / 8:53 PM / 12 years ago

Argentina stocks fall on oil prices, regional slump

BUENOS AIRES, April 29 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks fell on Tuesday in line with other regional markets and pressured by lower crude oil prices, while bonds slipped and the peso ended steady to firmer.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV ended 1.9 percent lower at 2070.00 points. On the broad market, volume was a healthy $48.3 million, and of active shares 16 advanced, 50 declined and 15 were unchanged.

“The drop in oil prices and the slump in Latin American markets were the main reasons for the MerVal’s fall,” said Augusto Farina, a trader at Amirante Galitis brokerage.

Brazilian and Mexican stocks fell on Tuesday, while U.S. crude oil futures tumbled as the dollar firmed against the euro and a strike ended at a key British refinery.

The local listing of Brazil’s state-run energy firm Petrobras APBR.BA shed 4.9 percent to close at 96 pesos per share in Buenos Aires. Shares in the company’s Argentine unit, Petrobras Energia Participaciones PCH.BA, sank 4.8 percent to 3.95 pesos.

On the debt market <AR/BONOS>, bonds traded locally slipped 0.4 percent on average. Dollar-denominated Par bonds led the session’s losses, falling 0.8 percent in over-the-counter trade.

Investors expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by just one-quarter of a percentage point this week, which they believe will dampen interest in riskier emerging markets assets, like those of Argentina, traders said.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso ARSB= ended steady at 3.2300/3.2325 per dollar.

But in formal interbank trade ARS=RASL, where the central bank intervenes to stabilize the currency, the peso firmed by 0.24 percent to 3.1625/3.1650 per dollar. (Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola; Writing by Hilary Burke; Editing by Diane Craft)

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