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Argentina central bank cuts benchmark rate floor to 50%

Argentina's central bank on Jan. 16 lowered the floor for its benchmark Leliq interest rate to 50% from 52%, marking its fourth cut in less than a month.

The decision came after official data showed inflation in the crisis-hit country reaching 53.8% in 2019, the highest level in almost three decades.

The "imminent" extension of the terms on seven-day Leliq notes and the country's troubled macroeconomic and financial position made it "appropriate to continue with a gradual decline in the reference interest rate," Banco Central de la República Argentina said. "It is expected that the gradual drop in the interest rate will contribute to relaxed credit conditions and stimulate economic activity."

The central bank lowered the rate's floor twice in December 2019, first to 58% and then to 55%, before reducing it further to 52% earlier in January.

Miguel Pesce, the central bank's new chief, recently said high rates have not helped slow inflation in the country, signaling that the key rate will continue on a downward path this month.