Argentina likely to see inflation tick up this year -analysts

FILE PHOTO: The facade of Argentina's Central Bank is pictured in the financial district of Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Analysts consulted by Argentina's central bank expect surging consumer prices to rise slightly this year, the bank said on Friday, which would mark a second straight year of near triple-digit inflation for South America's second-biggest economy.

Consumer prices are seen rising by an annual rate of 97.6% in 2023, according to the analyst poll commissioned by the Argentine monetary authority (BCRA), compared to last year's rate of 94.8%.

The bank's latest REM survey compares to a December forecast of a 98.4% inflation rate by the end of this year.

The government of embattled President Alberto Fernandez sees creeping annual inflation for 2023 significantly lower, at just 60%, according to a budget projection.

The survey's inflation forecast sees some relief by 2024, however, with prices rising by 79.6%, but up from its previous estimate of 75%.

Suffering through a prolonged economic crisis marked by a massive debt load, chronic deficit spending and the steady erosion of the local peso currency, Argentines live with one of the world's highest inflation rates, second only to Venezuela in Latin America.

Earlier this week, the BCRA announced it will roll out a new 2,000-peso bill, double the face value of its largest current bank note.

The analysts surveyed expect January's inflation rate to come in at 5.6%. The monthly rise in prices last December stood at 5.1%, according to the official IPC price index.

Expectations of economic growth this year remain unchanged at 0.5%, according to the survey, while the official exchange rate is seen ending the year at 327.75 per U.S. dollar.

That would mark a 74% weakening of the tightly controlled official exchange rate, compared to its current value of about 188 pesos per greenback.

The REM survey interviewed 40 experts from Jan. 27-31, including consultants, financial institutions and research centers.

(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Sandra Maler)