October 28, 2019 / 10:29 AM / a month ago

Argentina bonds tumble after Peronists sweep to power

LONDON/BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s dollar bonds fell on Monday as investors fretted about the consequences for the national economy and debt burden after Peronist Alberto Fernandez ousted President Mauricio Macri in an election.

Peronists swept back into power on Sunday in an election result that shifts Argentina firmly back toward the left after it was battered by economic crisis.

The benchmark international 2028 dollar bond 040114HQ6= dropped as much as 1.3 cents to 39.33 cents in the dollar, its lowest level since the start of the month, according to Refinitiv data.

With votes almost all counted, Fernandez had around 48% of the vote to Macri’s 40% - a wide enough margin to win, but a far better result for conservative leader Macri than a landslide defeat in an August primary which sparked a market collapse.

“The result was widely anticipated and whether Macri performs better than expected is neither here nor there,” said Gabriel Sterne, head of global macro research at Oxford Economics.

“Argentina is heading towards a default and there will now be tricky negotiations with the IMF, which has huge skin in the game and is desperate to safeguard its resources, and bondholders.”

Other economists said the market impact could be cushioned by a stronger-than-expected showing by Macri.

The result seems to suggest that voters showed some understanding of the need for fiscal tightening, said Shinji Ishimaru, senior currency analyst at MUFG Bank. “I think that could help steer the new government’s policies towards the centre of the road.”

Investors are waiting for Fernandez and his vice presidential running mate, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, to detail their plans for Latin America’s No. 3 economy.

Alberto Fernandez and Macri are set to meet together early on Monday morning to discuss the political transition, a move which could help calm markets.

Central bank chief Guido Sandleris will also hold a press conference before markets open, after the bank steeply cut the amount of dollars individual entities could buy in the early hours of Monday morning.

That move could help to stabilise the currency in the short-term, said analysts, with “only a moderate weakening” in the peso expected, said Ishimaru.

Investors are closely watching signals from Fernandez in the coming weeks on how his government plans to approach Argentina’s international bondholders and its $57 billion (44.4 billion pounds) financing deal with the International Monetary Fund as default fears linger.

Julio Nogues, an economist and member of Argentine National Academy of Economic Sciences, said early signs were Fernandez would look to avoid Argentina becoming isolated, while traders were looking to see how he would control the peso ARS=RASL.

“If you don’t put the house in fiscal order, and you tighten the exchange controls, you’re going directly to another fiscal crisis.”

Additonal reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Joan Manuel Santiago Lopez in Buenos Aires; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Pravin Char

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