Argentine peso sell-off takes a breather as investors await government plan

  • The Argentinian peso lost 20 percent in value against the dollar in just two days.
  • The slide came after the country's president asked the International Monetary Fund for $50 billion.
  • Inflation in Argentina reached an annual rate of 31.2 percent in July.
Currency exchange values are seen in the buy-sell board of a bureau de change in the financial district of Buenos Aires.
Eitan Abramovich | AFP | Getty Images
Currency exchange values are seen in the buy-sell board of a bureau de change in the financial district of Buenos Aires.

The Argentinian peso opened Friday trading in a calmer fashion after a traumatic two days that saw the currency shed 20 percent in value against the U.S. dollar.

Early Friday, the currency was trading at 38.3 pesos per dollar. At the close of Thursday's trade it had fallen to a record low of 39.25 pesos per dollar.

Argentina's government is taking dramatic steps to try to restore confidence in its free-falling currency, as Latin America's third-largest economy grapples with yet another financial crisis.

On Thursday, the Central Bank of Argentina unexpectedly raised interest rates to 60 percent from 45 percent, saying the move was in "response to the foreign exchange rate situation and the risk of greater inflation."

It was the fifth time the bank had raised benchmark rates since April.

It was reported by Reuters that a fresh policy package detailing cuts to government spending is to be announced Monday.

The South American country's recent flurry of rate hikes had been prompted by a sudden weakening in the peso after a drought hampered farm exports earlier in the year. A spike in energy prices and a resurgent greenback also worsened the situation as investors started to pull funds from emerging markets.

Market participants are increasingly concerned Buenos Aires could soon default as it struggles to repay heavy government borrowing. This comes after Argentina's government unexpectedly asked for the early release of a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday.

The IMF said in a statement Wednesday that it would look to "revise the government's economic plan with a focus on better insulating Argentina from recent shifts in global financial markets."

The Washington D.C.-based institute also added that its plan included "stronger monetary and fiscal policies and a deepening of efforts to support the most vulnerable in society."

A number of emerging market countries, including Argentina, Turkey and Brazil, are feeling the impact as tighter monetary policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve has boosted the dollar.