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ECONOMY | 18-03-2020 18:03

Merval slumps 14% amid virus fears, country risk soars above 4,000 points

As global markets take huge hits, benchmark Merval index of Buenos Aires Stock Exchange plunges more than 14 percent; Country risk rose to 4,040 points, a height not seen since June 2005.

Turmoil in the global markets hit closer to home again on Wednesday in a brutal day for local exchanges and securities.

The benchmark Merval index of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange plummeted 14.47 percent to 22,087.13 points on Wednesday in another day of nervousness amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Overall, 130 stocks reported declines, while only 13 closed higher than at the beginning of the day.

Among the hardest hit were the state energy company YPF (down 25.98 percent) and the Aluar aluminium firm (down 19.77 percent).

The volume traded in shares reached 1,055.8 million pesos (US$16.1 million at the current exchange rate).

Argentina, which must restructure a heavy public debt load in the coming months, also registered a sharp near 11-percent rise in its 'riesgo país' (country risk) rating to 4,040 points as local bonds collapsed on Wall Street. 

President Alberto Fernández's government had intended to present an offer to foreign private bondholders in mid-March to renegotiate almost US$70 billion of public debt. But in the face of global instability, it has postponed its manouevres.

Argentina has registered 97 cases of coronavirus, three of them fatal.

It was another day with big losses across the world's major markets, with Argentina not being exempt.

European stock markets opened with losses of up to four percent affected by the fall of futures on US stock indices.

Global actions were turning red as fears of the consequences of the coronavirus overshadowed the major support measures approved by authorities around the world.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones index fell 6.7 percent.

– TIMES/NA/AFP

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