UPDATE 2-Argentina may begin 'normalizing' FX market-central bank
(Adds analyst comment, foreign exchange market levels)
By Walter Bianchi
BUENOS AIRES Dec 19 (Reuters) - Argentina's central bank chief, Alejandro Vanoli, said on Friday the government would look to begin gradually "normalizing" its currency exchange market in 2015.
The comments were seen by analysts as a signal of gradual devaluation of the peso currency while the country gets set to elect a new president in October. They also may show the government is considering easing controls that were first imposed three years ago to stem a hemorrhaging of hard currency.
"The idea is to not levy any further restrictions and to move toward normalizing the currency market, depending on how the economy is looking," Vanoli told local radio station Radio America.
Largely shut out of global credit markets since a massive debt default in 2002, the Argentine government for four years has relied on its reserves to help finance imports, pay debts and shore up the peso currency.
Importers and savers are restricted in how many dollars they can buy a month and there is a 35 percent tax on credit card purchases outside the country, tourist holiday packages and plane tickets.
The restrictions have fueled a rampant black market as Argentines look for channels to buy dollars to shield their savings against inflation.
"Normalization means devaluation and the convergence of any parallel exchange rates," said Walter Molano, an analyst at U.S.-based BCP Securities. Continuación...