Argentina's peso strengthened more than 2 percent on Friday after the resignation of former Central Bank President Federico Sturzenegger, who was replaced late on Thursday by former Finance Minister Luis Caputo.
The surprise shakeup, which followed several weeks of currency volatility that led Argentina to seek a $50 billion lifeline from the International Monetary Fund, appeared to help restore trust in the central bank and calm markets.
Nicolas Dujovne, who now oversees a combined finance and treasury ministry, said at a news conference that market participants would be further cheered by the arrival of an initial $7.5 billion of IMF funds following the expected approval of the financing by the IMF board on Wednesday.
Dujovne said the central bank could intervene in the spot market if needed under the country's agreement with the Fund and that the central bank would start reducing one-month Lebac securities that have increased volatility.
"We have ratified it with the Fund. We have a floating system in which the central bank can intervene," Dujovne said.
"We are working with the new president of the central bank... on a schedule to strengthen the central bank balance sheet, replacing the central bank's papers that have very high rates and short-term maturities," he added.
Last week, Sturzenegger suggested the central bank would stop intervening in the local spot market. But then it sold more than $500 million on Tuesday and Wednesday before letting the peso slide 6.22 percent to a record low on Thursday.
On Friday, the peso opened up more than 4 percent and then settled at 27.45 per dollar, up 2.55 percent, as traders took in central bank leadership under Caputo, who worked for JP Morgan for more than a decade before joining President Mauricio Macri's government.
"Caputo has a lot of experience in what one could call market management," said Daniel Marx, executive director of financial advisory firm Quantum Finanzas and Argentina’s former secretary of finance.
"Here clearly the preference is for someone who has experience in how the market works and reacts."
On Thursday morning, the government made public its letter of intent signed by Dujovne and Sturzenegger, to achieve goals imposed by the IMF of lowering the fiscal deficit and making the central bank formally independent.
Dujovne affirmed on Friday the government's plan to present a new charter on the central bank to Congress.
© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.