Argentina pockets $35bn windfall after accounting change

A little-noticed decision by policy makers late last year to change the way they value government bond holdings transformed the central bank’s balance sheet overnight, turning what had been a net worth of negative $2 billion into positive $33 billion. Officials have made little effort to explain the move — they just say it’s part of a wide-ranging emergency law to shore up the economy — but analysts note how it will pave the way for the bank to start turning over dividends to the cash-strapped government.

Basic food basket jumped 5.7% in January, retail inflation 2.3%

An Argentine type family (two adults and two minors) needed in January the minimum income of AR$40,373 ($654) to not fall below the poverty line, and AR$16,478 ($ 267) to avoid indigence, said the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec). This means that the Basic Food Basket (CBA), which gathers the minimum amount of food for subsistence rose 5.7% monthly; while the Total Basic Basket (CBT), which in addition to food includes transport and some clothing, increased 3.6%.

Guzmán to meet Georgieva after IMF technical mission to Buenos Aires

Economy Minister Martín Guzmán is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday for a G20 meeting, where he will meet with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva and hold a series of bilateral meetings to review Argentina’s debt restructuring plans. Georgieva will have on the table fresh data collected by the IMF mission lead by Julie Kozak and Luis Cubbedu that finishes today a week working in Buenos Aires.

Industrial activity fell 6.3% in 2019 second consecutive year of losses

Argentina industrial activity plummeted 6.3% during 2019, completing two consecutive years of losses, reported the Argentina Industrial Union (UIA). A survey of the sector showed auto manufacturing suffered the greatest contraction at 32.5%, strongly affecting the final result of the index. Other sectors in the red included basic metals foundry, down 8% and metal-mechanics, 7.5%. Non metallic metals slipped 6.8%, textiles, 5.6% and printing, 2.2%.

Argentina plans to ease natural gas, power price controls in June

Argentina plans to lift controls on power and natural gas tariffs as soon as June, Production Minister Matías Kulfas said, in a move seen as key for reviving investment in gas production. Some gas producers say that they are getting as low as $1.50/MMBtu at the wellhead after the freeze on tariffs last year. Many of them have shifted their investments to oil fields, thus raising concerns that a slowdown in gas production could force the country to increase imports after years of reducing them.