May 15, 2019 / 7:29 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 3-Argentina inflation slows in April in salve for Macri

(Adds information and quote from central bank news conference)

By Eliana Raszewski

BUENOS AIRES, May 15 (Reuters) - Argentina consumer prices rose by 3.4% in April, the country’s statistics agency said on Wednesday, decelerating from a month earlier and providing some welcome relief to President Mauricio Macri as he looks to rein in stubbornly high inflation.

Argentina’s inflation accelerated monthly in January-March, hammering individual savings and hurting Macri in opinion polls ahead of presidential elections in October that are likely to be a choice between painful market reforms and a return to populism.

“You have to take it as a positive result because the market, after the reality of the March inflation data, perceives it as something favorable,” said economist Nery Persichini of local firm GMA Capital.

“It brings relief. It favors Macri’s chances,” he added.

The rise, which was below analyst forecasts of 4%, took year-to-date inflation to 15.6%. Rolling 12-month inflation picked up to 55.8%, the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) said.

Central Bank President Guido Sandleris acknowledged at a news conference later on Wednesday that inflation remains high, but said the bank is working to reduce it with several measures, including a strict monetary policy.

“We are optimistic that inflation will continue to fall,” Sandleris said.

Argentina’s consumer prices rose 47.6% in 2018, part of the broader financial turmoil that has left a third of the population in Latin America’s No. 3 economy in poverty, pushed interest rates skyward and sent the peso tumbling against the dollar.

Additonal reporting by Jorge Iorio; writing by Cassandra Garrison and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Sandra Maler

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