Argentina's economic activity expanded in December as retail sales and manufacturing advanced, while the country posted a trade surplus in January that almost tripled the surplus the same month a year earlier.
Activity increased a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in the December and contracted 0.3% from a year earlier, according to the monthly estimate released by Argentina's stats office Indec. In November, activity fell a revised 1.6% in the month and contracted a revised 2% from a year earlier.
The country posted a trade surplus of US$ 1.02 billion in January, from a surplus of US$ 373 million a year earlier, Indec said. Exports declined slightly to US$ 4.55 billion in the month from US$ 4.59 billion a year earlier, while imports fell to US$ 3.53 billion from US$ 4.21 billion in the same period.
The fledgling government of President Alberto Fernandez needs the economy to recover to boost tax revenue and help pay down the country's debt, which the IMF earlier this week said was unsustainable. The Fund called on the country's creditors to make a meaningful contribution to help restore the country's debt to a sustainable level.
Argentina, Latin America's third-biggest economy after Brazil and Mexico, has a long history of financial difficulties. The country has defaulted on debt at least eight times in the past 200 years and has received almost 30 IMF packages over the past six decades. The last major crisis occurred in 2001 when Argentina defaulted on about US$ 130 billion in debt, the largest default at the time.
Retail sales increased 1.6% in December, after falling 6% in November, while manufacturing activity gained 0.8% in the last month of last year following a decline of 4.8% a month earlier.