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ECONOMY | 24-10-2019 14:29

Tensions in exchange markets intensify ahead of election

Peso selling at 62 per US dollar on official markets, reaching as high as 69 per greenback in Córdoba.

Tensions in the exchange markets have intensified in the build-up to Sunday's elections, with the peso trading above 62 per US dollar and the unofficial exchange rate slumping to its weakest point in seven years.

Unofficial, black-market traders were offering 80 pesos per dollar on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported, taking the differential between the rates to 36 percent, compared to 18 percent a week ago.

By midday Thursday morning, the national currency had weakened by a full peso to 58.53 per US greenback to buy and 62.88 per US greenback if selling in the official markets. 

Banco Nación was selling at 62 pesos, with exchange houses in the City offering 65 pesos. In Córdoba, local reports said the dollar was selling at 69 pesos, Noticias Argentinas reported. 

Seeking to calm the market, the Central Bank sold more than US$100 dollars at around midday.

"The peso has been under pressure in the currency market in recent days, partly due to hedging activity before Sunday's elections," wrote Daniel Chodos, head of sovereign credit strategy for Latin America at Credit Suisse in Buenos Aires, in a note to traders.

Alejandro Bianchi, founder of AsesorDeInversores.com, told the Télam state news agency that the turbulence was because "we are a few days away from the presidential election and we are heading on an uncertain path."

The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange fell Thursday morning 0.6 percent on average with the S&P Merval indicator at 32,585.55 points at midday, after pressure on the exchange rate.

Tensions in the exchange market have intensified amid political uncertainty in the build-up to Sunday's elections. 

President Mauricio Macri is seeking re-election against opposition frontrunner Alberto Fernández, who has paired up with former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to lead a unified Peronist ticket. The Frente de Todos candidate, who routed Macri in the August 11 PASO primaries, emerging with a 16-point lead, is the strong favourite, with some polling firms tipping him to win outright in the first round.

Vice-presidential candidate Miguel Ángel Pichetto brushed off fears about the dollar during an interview with Canal 3 in Córdoba on Thursday, saying that if the president won re-election, the economy would go through "a fundamental change" that would see the peso strengthen against the dollar.

"If Mauricio Macri wins, the economy will experience a fundamental change. The problem for the markets and financial sectors is the doubt generated by a possible Government of [Alberto] Fernández and Cristina Kirchner, the reappearance of old visions," said the Peronist senator.

This morning, President Mauricio Macri headed a Cabinet meeting, his last before the election, where the exchange rate was expected to be the main topic of conversation.

The Juntos por el Cambio leader then headed off to Córdoba, where he will hold his last campaign rally this evening.

– TIMES/NA/BLOOMBERG

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