The Central Bank (BCRA) was forced today to sell another US$30 million of its dwindling reserves, disturbing data given that the negative balance occurred on a day in which the volume traded in the official foreign exchange market contracted 30% (barely exceeded US$175 million).
The decrease in the amount traded allowed it to lower the proportion of the contribution it made to the market from 24.5% to 17.5%, but It did not allow him to avoid a new loss of reserves and increase the total sold to US$140 million in the last three days.
In this way, the favorable balance for repurchases so far this month (which had reached US$204 million until last Monday) was reduced to just US$64 million, something that greatly worries the market, given that last year at this point in January it accumulated a net repurchase of US$410 million in favor, and in the previous one (2020) that balance climbed to US$874 million.
Despite these data, from the BCRA they assure that the market “moved according to the logic for this time of year”, with a decrease in the level of settlements that forces it to intervene to validate imports “which remain at record levels.”
Of course, this benign reading seems to overlook the situation of extreme fragility exhibited by the entity’s own (net) reserves, which were around US$5 billion at this point last year and are now around US$3 billion, and with a marked downward trend, which makes the market fear that a jump in the exchange rate will be repeated like the one verified at the end of January 2014 in circumstances similar to the current ones.
It all happened on a day in which the wholesale exchange rate closed at $104.31 (+7 cents compared to the previous close), a price that remained stable at +/- 2 cents at the end of the session, something that reveals a sustained intervention by the entity and an intention to keep the slippage limited of the ticket that exhibits a rise of 47 cents, somewhat below the adjustment of 49 cents that it showed at this point in the previous week.
“The currency rose seven cents again in a market with a low volume operated by reducing export settlements and maintaining sustained demand by importers,” said Francisco Díaz Mayer, from ABC Cambios.
“If we look at the reference exchange rate A3500 -which closed at $104.3-, it is verified that it lets it run at a rate equivalent to 1.89% effective monthly, well below the indexation level [inflación] that the economy exhibits”, highlights Andrés Reschini, from F2 Financial Solutions, who adds that, in this way, in January it has a devaluation rate “of 29.8% annual effective rate that continues to tighten the gap and fuel the bleeding of reserves”.
“The level of imports is maintained while the income of the agro-export sector falls a little, which forces the BCRA to carry out new sales of official reserves to meet a demand for foreign currency”, agrees the financial analyst Gustavo Ber.
The loss of reserves keeps the market in suspense, as shown by the upward trends that the blue dollar maintains in recent days (which reached $214 for sale in the microcenter on the day) and the financial ones (MEP and CCL), which climb 2% average and they operate from $211.80 to $219.50, which maintains the so-called exchange “gap” above 100%, even when the Financial Information Unit (UIF) tried to further discourage demand, authorizing banks and brokers request the sworn declarations of Earnings and Personal Assets from their clients before validating the requests to convert pesos to dollars.