January 23, 2020 / 9:07 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Argentina cenbank holds benchmark rate unchanged at 50% after recent cuts

(Updates with cenbank statement quote, more background)

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Argentina’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 50% on Thursday, the bank said in a statement, after having cut it four times in under two months in a bid to jumpstart the country’s stalled economy.

The bank most recently cut the rate on Jan. 16 from 52% previously, a new approach under the administration of Alberto Fernandez to stimulate economic activity even at the risk of stoking inflation, already hovering above 50%.

The bank said that recent changes to how it issues Leliq, including reducing the number of auctions each week and offering new 14-day notes, had also “in effect” resulted in a drop in the benchmark rate.

The central bank has announced the recent interest rate floor cuts after market close on a Thursday.

“The Board of Directors of the BCRA (central bank) will continue to monitor the behavior of real interest rates and the performance of the economy,” it added.

Center-left Peronist Fernandez, who took office on Dec. 10, has prioritized economic growth, saying the country cannot afford to pay its creditors until it revives its economy. Fernandez has blamed the administration of his predecessor, conservative President Mauricio Macri, for the country’s economic crisis as it grapples with about $100 in sovereign debt.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan, Maximilian Heath and Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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