March 12, 2020 / 7:41 PM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-Argentina says February inflation slows to 2.0%

(Updates with Reuters poll data, Economy Minister comments on inflation)

BUENOS AIRES, March 12 (Reuters) - Argentina consumer prices rose 2.0% in February, the official statistics agency INDEC said on Thursday, below analyst expectations.

A Reuters poll of economists had estimated inflation of 2.3% for the month.

The rate of inflation was also slower compared to January when consumer prices rose 2.3%.

The February data brought 12-month inflation to 50.3%.

Argentina consumer prices rose 53.8% in 2019, the biggest increase in 28 years. The South American country has been struggling with an economic crisis that sapped the peso currency and sent consumer prices sky-rocketing.

Economy Minister Martin Guzman told Reuters this week that inflation in the country was falling, but that the process required persistence.

“It takes much more than just monetary policy. It takes a comprehensive macroeconomic program that is helped with policies that enhance coordination,” Guzman said in an interview.

Argentina is currently in talks with its creditors to restructure about $100 billion in sovereign debt that the government of President Alberto Fernandez has said it will struggle to pay.

Fernandez set a deadline of March 31 to deal with the country’s public debt, but Guzman said the time frame could be affected by a global coronavirus outbreak that was hitting plans for road shows for the government’s debt proposal. (Reporting by Jorge Iorio; additional reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Eliana Raszewski; writing by Cassandra Garrison Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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