July 29, 2008 / 9:09 PM / 12 years ago

Argentine stocks inch higher on Tenaris

BUENOS AIRES, July 29 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks made weak gains on Tuesday, divorced from the enthusiasm in other regional markets, as political risk concerns trumped gains in heavyweight issue Tenaris.

The benchmark MerVal index .MERV inched up 0.2 percent to 1,926.68 points, on healthy volume of $44 million. Of active shares 29 advanced, 31 declined and 23 were unchanged.

Steel pipe maker Tenaris TENA.BA, which is weighted at 14 percent of the MerVal, advanced 1.08 percent to 94 pesos per share, after reaching an intraday high of 96.5 pesos.

“The market started out with lots of enthusiasm because of the Tenaris jump, but then people took profits in that issue which erased a large part of the MerVal gains,” said Juan Diedrich, analyst with Capital Markets Argentina brokerage.

“The dichotomy between our market and foreign markets shows that investors are demanding political change in the country,” he said.

Investors are hoping for signs that President Cristina Kirchner will make more changes in her cabinet after she lost a prolonged battle with farmers over her soy export tax hike. If Fernandez were to replace her controversial domestic commerce secretary, that could indicate a move to restore credibility in official inflation data and other economic indicators.

However, there are no signs from the government that more changes are coming since the cabinet chief and agriculture secretary were replaced last week.

Bonds, meanwhile, gained in tune with other emerging market debt. Argentine sovereign bonds traded locally gained 0.5 percent on average, led by the Par bond dominated in pesos, which increased 2.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the peso currency slipped 0.16 percent to 3.0225/3.0250 per U.S. dollar ARS=RASL in formal interbank trade. In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso inched up 0.08 percent to 3.0650/3.0675 per dollar ARSB=. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola, writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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