June 21, 2019 / 2:56 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Argentina posts biggest fiscal surplus in eight years, peso rises

(Adds peso rise, details on fiscal surplus)

By Jorge Otaola

BUENOS AIRES, June 21 (Reuters) - Argentina’s Treasury said on Friday that the country posted its biggest monthly primary fiscal surplus in eight years in May, helping bolster the local peso currency which rose over 1% in morning trading.

The South American country, which has been looking to trim public sector spending and shed heavy debt loads, had a primary fiscal surplus of 25.97 billion pesos ($600 million) for May, which it said was the largest since 2011.

In the same month a year earlier, it had a deficit of 7.8 billion pesos.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri, vying for re-election later this year, has instituted an austerity program to help meet goals included in a $57 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year.

The Treasury said in a commentary after the data was released that it marked a “major step” toward meeting its targets with the international lender.

The IMF is currently carrying out its fourth review of Argentina’s program. The body is expected to give its approval, which would unlock the latest tranche of funds amounting to around $5.5 billion.

Argentina ran a primary fiscal surplus of 499 million pesos in April and had a first-quarter surplus of 10.347 billion pesos. ($1 = 43.2520 Argentine pesos) (Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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