Argentina braced for new round of debt talks with markets stalled

VOICES.NEWS-Argentine markets held steady on Friday morning at the end of the first business week since voters chose a new left-wing governm...

VOICES.NEWS-Argentine markets held steady on Friday morning at the end of the first business week since voters chose a new left-wing government, as investors watched for signs about future economic policy and plans for crunch debt talks with creditors.

With few signals from President-elect Alberto Fernandez, the country’s peso currency and bonds have been in limbo, while international holders of Argentine debt have been in Buenos Aires for talks amid fears of default.

In a playful moment on Friday, Guillermo Nielsen, a key economic advisor to Fernandez who previously led fraught negotiations with Argentina’s creditors in 2005, tweeted a photo from his office alongside a major German investor.

“Deja vu? Estefan Engelsberger in my office now,” Nielsen tweeted, referring to an investor who had led a group of European creditors in previous talks, and became well enough known to have his own cartoon character in Argentine newspaper Clarin.

Nielsen led the debt talks under the administration of former President Nestor Kirchner and is now an economic adviser to Fernandez. He is expected to play some role negotiating the restructuring of some $100 billion in sovereign debt.

In an interview published on Friday with Argentine news website Infobae, Englesberger said he was here to offer his help to the Fernandez government in upcoming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, which agreed to a $57 billion financing program with Argentina in 2018.

In the markets, Argentina’s peso edged down to close at 59.745 per dollar, capping off a mostly steady week and even netting a small gain for the week under stricter currency controls and heavy central bank invention to steady the rickety currency.

The black market peso was 2.22% stronger at the close, to 67.5 per dollar, traders said.

Fernandez, who has named a transition team but not yet his key picks for top economic posts, was scheduled to travel to Mexico on Friday and return next week, in his first foreign trip as president-elect.

He defeated business-friendly President Mauricio Macri in an election on Sunday to set Argentina back on a left-wing path.

Argentina’s central bank was also set to auction another $50 million at a rate of 59.99 pesos per dollar, traders said on Friday. The central bank has been draining its foreign currency reserves with regular interventions in the foreign exchange market to defend the peso since Fernandez heavily won an Aug. 11 primary election.(mr/reuters)


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