August 22, 2019
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Argentine peso, stock market sink after primary election shocker

Buenos Aires, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- The Argentine peso sank against the US dollar on Monday following the governing party's defeat in the presidential primaries over the weekend and the strong showing by the opposition Peronists.

The Buenos Aires Stock Exchange's benchmark S&P Merval index plunged on Monday in the wake of the primaries, which dealt a blow to President Mauricio Macri's re-election chances.

Peronist presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez, according to provisional election results, finished 15 percentage points ahead of Macri in Sunday's primaries.

Fernandez and vice presidential running mate Sen. Cristina Fernandez, who governed Argentina from 2007 to 2015, got 47.65 percent of the vote on the ticket of the Peronist Frente de Todos.

The 60-year-old Macri, who headed the ticket of the Juntos por el Cambio party, received just 32.08 percent of the vote.

The turnout was 75.78 percent for Sunday's primary elections, which were open to all citizens regardless of party affiliation.

Candidates competing in the primaries, in which voting was mandatory for citizens between the ages of 18 and 70, had to garner at least 1.5 percent of the vote to make it onto the ballot for the Oct. 27 general elections.

The only areas where Macri's party won were Cordoba province and the city of Buenos Aires.

Frente de Todos also finished first in the primaries for candidates vying for seats in the lower house of Congress, garnering 48.8 percent of the vote in Buenos Aires province to the 30.98 percent won by Juntos por el Cambio.

Macri's party did better in the Senate primaries, getting 45.52 percent of the vote in the city of Buenos Aires to the 31.69 percent of the vote won by Frente de Todos candidates.

Fernandez's strong performance sent a chill through currency and financial markets.

On Monday, the US dollar, according to Banco Nacion figures, opened for trading at 61 pesos, up 32 percent from last Friday's close of 46.20 pesos per dollar.

After acknowledging his defeat in the primaries, Macri warned that investors, who had been betting that he would perform well, would have a negative reaction.

On Friday, the benchmark S&P Merval index had closed up 7.94 percent.

The Office of the President said Macri would meet with his Cabinet on Monday afternoon at the Casa Rosada, the seat of the government in Buenos Aires, to discuss the situation.

The administration, which usually holds Cabinet meetings in the mornings, appears to be waiting for the close of financial markets to comment.

Central Bank chairman Guido Sandleris and other members of the economic team arrived at the Casa Rosada on Monday morning for meetings with the president and his advisers.

Some 33.8 million people were eligible to vote in the primaries, choosing from among 10 different lists of candidates.

In 2015, Macri, running on a reform platform, defeated Peronist Party candidate Daniel Scioli in a runoff.

Argentina's next president will be sworn in on Dec. 10 for a four-year term. EFE

rgm/hv

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