October 24, 2019 / 5:03 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Argentine central bank sells $176 mln to calm peso ahead of election

(Adds economic and political context)

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Argentina’s central bank auctioned $176 million in two foreign exchange market interventions on Thursday, traders said, as policymakers tried to stabilize the wobbly peso currency ahead of the Oct. 27 presidential election.

A third intervention was expected later in the day, traders said. President Mauricio Macri, an advocate of open markets whose orthodox policies have failed to solve Argentina’s long-standing economic problems, is expected to lose Sunday’s vote to populist-leaning Peronist Alberto Fernandez.

With the economy in recession and 12-month inflation at 53.5%, opinion polls show Fernandez has enough support to win the presidency outright on Sunday, avoiding a November run-off.

Consumer prices rose 5.9% in September alone.

Widely expected to be sworn in as Argentina’s leader in December, Fernandez this week appealed to Macri to take measures to keep the currency stable during the likely upcoming transition of government. Fernandez’s thumping of Macri in the August primary election set the peso tumbling.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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