By Taos Turner
BUENOS AIRES--Argentina's benchmark stock index rose Wednesday as Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR, PETR4.BR), or Petrobras, surged after the company raised domestic diesel prices, surprising investors.
Shares of Petrobras, which has a supplemental listing in Buenos Aires, soared 13% and were the day's most traded stock.
The price hike helps offset investor disappointment with January's lower-than-expected jump in gasoline and diesel prices, which had pushed Petrobras's shares to a seven-year low in recent sessions. Petrobras's shares had been dragged down by expectations for stable crude oil production this year and ongoing concerns about the impact of heavy fuel imports on the company's bottom line.
The Merval stock index rose 1.26% to 3,233.53 in volume totaling ARS56.8 million ($11.2 million).
Argentina's state-run oil company YPF SA (YPFD.BA, YPF) rose almost 4% to ARS119.65. YPF shares were the second-most traded on Wednesday.
Shares of the power distributor Edenor (>> EDENOR S.A.) led the decliners, falling 2.5% to ARS0.935 in minimal trading.
The steel producer Tenaris SA (TEN.MI, TS) was also heavily traded but its stock was barely moved at ARS163.
The price of the DICY discount bond jumped 4.81% to ARS697.
The TVPA GDP Warrant, a security whose performance is tied to economic growth, fell 0.44% to ARS44.75.
Argentina's black-market peso closed at ARS7.83 to the dollar, according to the financial daily El Cronista.
Argentina strictly rations the sale of dollars and other currencies, forcing many people into the black market if they really need other currencies for travel or to save.
The official exchange rate closed at ARS5.061 on the MAE wholesale currency market, compared with ARS5.056 in the previous session.
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