Grupo Galicia Drags Argentina's Merval Stock Index Lower
02/15/2013| 04:52pm US/Eastern
By Taos Turner
BUENOS AIRES--Argentine stocks ended the week on a negative note Friday, led lower by the financial group Grupo Financiero Galicia SA (GGAL.BA, GGAL), whose quarterly earnings report did little to inspire local investors.
The benchmark Merval stock index fell 0.25% to 3295.42 in volume totaling about 45.5 million pesos ($9.1 million).
Grupo Galicia, the most traded stock, slid 2.1% to ARS4.47 after reporting its net profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was barely changed at ARS368 million, compared with ARS355 million a year earlier.
Administrative expenses soared by about 37% to ARS1.59 billion, largely because of higher personnel costs.
Like other companies, banks aren't immune to Argentina's inflation problems. Unions annually demand wage increases to keep pace with inflation, which economists estimate totals around 26%. That puts continual pressure on companies.
Another heavily traded stock was the state-run oil company YPF SA (>> YPF SA), which fell 1.2% to ARS127.
Steel producer Siderar SAIC (ERAR.BA) led the gains, rising 2.2% to ARS1.90. Its sister company, Tenaris SA (TEN.MI, TS) rose 1.5% to ARS157.40.
Tenaris said earlier Friday it plans to spend $1.5 billion to build a seamless pipe factory in Texas, further evidence that the U.S. unconventional oil and gas boom is attracting more jobs and investment. The company's pipes are widely used in the oil and gas industry around the world.
Argentina's GDP warrants, or securities whose performance is tied to economic growth, fell after the statistics agency, Indec, confirmed that the economy grew 1.9% in 2012, below the 3.26% floor required to trigger the payout on the warrants.
The TVPA fell 1.1% to ARS44; the TVPY 1.2% to ARS43.90.
Argentina's black market peso was weaker at ARS7.71 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 ARS5.0115 on the MAE wholesale currency market, compared with ARS5.005 in the previous session.
Write to Taos Turner at email@example.com
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Stocks mentioned in the article : YPF SA