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Argentina stocks plunge amid emerging markets concerns

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[BUENOS AIRES] The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange plunged 8.8 per cent Wednesday, it's worst closing performance for years, amid nervousness over emerging markets coupled with tensions over an IMF loan.

The benchmark Merval index fell to 25,965 points after four days of consecutive losses.

"It's evident that there is less appetite for emerging markets in a more challenging global financial climate. But in Argentina's case, you have to add the harsh economic realities of the IMF as well as its political implications," analyst Gustavo Ber told La Nacion.

The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange has shown successive closing losses of 6.0 per cent, 2.13 per cent and 4.47 per cent since last week.

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The losses wiped away gains when stocks surged briefly last week on news that index provider MSCI upgraded Argentina to its emerging markets.

The peso plunged to a record low this month, and since the start of the year the currency has dropped more than 30 per cent against the dollar.

Following a currency crisis in April and May, the IMF announced the US$50 billion standby loan in early June after Latin America's third largest economy sought help to bolster market confidence.

Last Friday it received a first tranche of US$15 billion to help stabilise its economy.

"International investors are hoping that in addition to achieving rate stability, there are indications locally of progress towards lowering the deficit, reducing inflation and cutting interest rates," Pablo Castagna told Ambito Financiero newspaper.

Argentine press reports Wednesday fuelled rumors that the government of center-right President Mauricio Macri is planning to introduce a tax on shares as it seeks to trim the deficit and halt inflation.

The South American country has a bitter history with the IMF, which many Argentines view as having imposed tough conditions that worsened economic pain 17 years ago.

AFP