Argentine markets in celebratory mood ahead of Easter break

By Thomson Reuters Mar 25, 2024 | 8:58 AM

By Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s markets are in celebration mode ahead of the long Easter public holiday with sovereign bonds and equities on a prolonged rally buoyed by fiscal tightening and pro-investor measures taken by libertarian President Javier Milei.

Some dollar bonds have hit record highs since a major debt restructuring in 2020 after Milei took office late last year, pledging to put the country’s creaking finances in order, reach a zero deficit and take a “chainsaw” to spending by the state.

“The imbalances are reducing. In February, both the fiscal result and the trade balance were positive again, for the second consecutive month. The markets? They are celebrating,” said local economist Esteban Domecq.

Argentine markets will have a curtailed week with the coming Thursday-Tuesday national holiday.

Milei has been feted by the markets for his pro-investor focus and austerity which has helped rebuild reserves and post fiscal and trade surpluses at the start of the year. Economic growth, though, is stalling and poverty is rising.

Inflation remains north of 275% and tight capital controls, in place since 2019, remains a weight on business.

Javier Casabal of Adcap Grupo Financiero said Milei’s tough reforms and fiscal tightening were necessary, though the impact on the economy and people’s spending power was a risk.

“Will people tolerate things until we see the light at the end of the tunnel? So far, the response is positive,” he said.

Brokerage Delphos Investment said the government was proving to be pragmatic. Milei has faced push-back to his reforms from lawmakers and regional governors, as well as an increase of protests and strikes around the country.

“The fact they keep pushing on with the fiscal adjustment and accumulation of reserves is being celebrated,” it said.

(Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Walter Bianchi; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Ed Osmond)