June 30, 2008 / 9:19 PM / 12 years ago

Tenaris gains boost Argentine stocks for second day

BUENOS AIRES, June 30 (Reuters) - Argentine stocks rose on Monday on the back of gains by index heavyweight Tenaris TENA.BA(TS.N), while bonds were firmer due to central bank buying, traders said.

The benchmark MerVal stock index .MERV gained 0.7 percent to end at 2,107.87 points, cutting its losses since the start of the month to 4.44 percent.

Mirroring Friday’s session, the MerVal’s gains were largely driven by Tenaris, the world’s largest producer of seamless steel tubes for the energy industry, which has rallied due to record oil prices.

It finished up by 2.4 percent to 119.6 pesos per share, an all-time high.

“Tenaris is what’s driving the MerVal, because in general there continues to be pessimism among investors due to uncertainty over the farm conflict,” said Hernan Labrone, an analyst at the Fenix Financial Company, referring to a prolonged dispute between farmers and the government that has rattled Argentine markets.

Trade volume was slightly stronger at $35 million. Of active issues, 25 rose, 40 fell and 17 were unchanged.

On the local debt market, Argentine bonds <AR/BONOS> managed a light 0.2 percent gain on average in over-the-counter trade in a market underpinned by strategic central bank purchases, debt traders said.

They said the central bank is intervening in the local bond market in a bid to smooth out volatility that has hit Argentine debt due to the farming conflict.

Monday’s strongest performers included peso-denominated Par paper, which rose 1.4 percent, and the Discount bond in pesos, which finished up 1.6 percent.

On the foreign exchange market, the peso ARS=RASL held steady at 3.025/3.0275 per dollar, with dollar sales by grains exporters and the central bank cushioning the impact of continued safe-haven dollar-buying by savers, traders said.

In informal trade between foreign exchange houses, as measured by Reuters, the peso strengthened a hefty 0.82 percent to close at 3.0575/3.06 per dollar ARSB=.

Due to the central bank’s hold on the market and exporters’ dollar sales in recent sessions, the informal peso has firmed 4 percent against the greenback in June.

The central bank has been selling dollars to bolster the peso amid uncertainty surrounding the farm dispute that began in mid-March. (Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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