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IMF to ship $5.4 billion to Argentina under standby loan deal


By Hernan Nessi

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund board said on Friday it would ship $5.4 billion in cash to Argentina after approving a fourth review of a standby credit deal with the crisis-stricken South American nation.

The latest installment is part of a $57 billion IMF financing agreement approved last year that included unpopular spending cuts that have hammered households and businesses already struggling with recession and high inflation.

"The Argentine authorities continue to show a strong commitment to their economic policy program, meeting all the applicable targets under the Fund-supported program," the IMF said in a statement.

The fresh cash could help embattled President Mauricio Macri as he seeks to calm markets and boost investor confidence ahead of the first round of presidential elections in October, in which Macri is seeking a second term.

The government says the outlook for Latin America's No. 3 economy is improving. Earlier on Friday, officials said Argentina had posted a surplus of $710.9 million in the first half of 2019, surpassing a key benchmark set by the IMF.

"While it has taken time, these policy efforts are starting to bear fruit," the Fund said in the statement. "Financial markets have stabilized, the fiscal and external positions are improving, and the economy is beginning a gradual recovery from last year´s recession. The Fund is strongly supportive of these important policy efforts."

Macri´s government has said it expects inflation to end this year under 40.3%. The rate over the 12 months through May clocked at 57%.

(Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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