June 29, 2018 / 2:34 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 3-Argentine central bank increases dollar sales as peso weakens

(Recasts with dollar sale by central bank)

BUENOS AIRES, June 29 (Reuters) - Argentina’s central bank sold a total $450 million to support the local peso on Friday, traders said, after the currency fell 3.7 percent to hit a new all-time low of 29.20 to the U.S. dollar.

The bank’s first intervention of the day was for $150 million. Monetary policymakers followed up with a second intervention of $300 million when the peso refused to strengthen, traders said.

The beleaguered peso had weakened 14.49 percent in June, for an overall decline so far in 2018 of 36.13 percent.

The swooning currency prompted Argentina to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last month for a $50 billion stand-by financing deal.

The IMF disbursed the first $15 billion last week. Argentina, blighted by high inflation and wobbly growth, has been among the emerging markets most hurt by investor flight to safe havens as the U.S. Federal Reserve hikes interest rates.

Last week the central bank announced it would auction $100 million per day. It upped that amount to $150 million on Thursday before Friday’s $450 million intervention.

Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Jorge Otaola Writing by Hugh Bronstein Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Frances Kerry and Susan Thomas

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