Argentine peso ends tumultuous 2019 down 37% against the dollar

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – The Argentine peso <ARS=RASL> on Monday chalked up a 37% drop 2019, closing out a tumultuous year in which the currency has plummeted against the dollar amid rising debt default fears, rampant inflation and domestic recession.

The peso, its major losses from earlier in the year capped by currency controls in recent months, closed down 0.13% on Monday 59.91 per dollar.

Argentina’s markets are closed on Tuesday for the New Year holiday.

The country’s markets and currency were battered in August when a steep primary election defeat for then-President Mauricio Macri jolted investor confidence in the South American nation with worries about a sharp political shift.

That dragged down the peso, the domestic S&P Merval <.MERV> equities index and the country’s bonds, which fell into distressed territory over default fears as the government sought talks to restructure billions of dollars in debt.

Argentina’s over-the-counter bonds, however, have recovered slightly, warming to new Peronist President Alberto Fernandez, who has sought a more amiable approach to debt talks and looked to calm fears over heavy investor losses.

The country’s OTC bonds rose 8.5% on average in December, though they were still down 21% for the year.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s lifted Argentina’s long-term foreign currency rating out of “selective default” on Monday, saying that a non-payment issue earlier in the month had effectively “cured.”

(GRAPHIC: Argentina’s peso tumbles in 2019 – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/ARGENTINA-CURRENCY/0H001QXSKB5L/eikon.png)

(Reporting by Walter Bianchi; writing by Adam Jourdan; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)

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