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Argentina inflation seen speeding up in May, bucking regional trend

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By Hernan Nessi

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s monthly inflation rate likely sped up to 8.8% in May, according to analysts polled by Reuters, as prices in the South America country continue to soar despite a cooling trend in other countries around the region.

Argentina is battling soaring inflation likely to end the year near 150%, sapping people’s spending power, pummeling the peso currency and pulling the rug out from under the ruling Peronist coalition ahead of October elections.

That’s one of the highest rates in the world and the fastest annual reading for the major grains exporter since 1991.

The expected monthly rise was the median forecast of 19 analysts, with estimates ranging between 8% and 9.4%. It would be faster than the 8.4% rise in April.

Analysts said it would be hard for Argentina’s government to bring prices down, even as inflation has started to ease in places like Mexico, Chile and Brazil.

“It will be hard to put the brakes on inflation without any policy that attacks the underlying problem, which is monetary,” said Natalia Motyl, economist and director of the consultancy NM, adding monthly inflation could hit double digits by June.

“None of the measures announced give us any signs that the course will change. Today the floor is at 8%, which is the core inflation. This will be difficult to bring down.”

Consulting firm Orlando Ferreres & Asociados said housing along with food and beverages likely led the monthly price increases, followed by household equipment.

Argentina’s INDEC statistics office is set to release the official May inflation data on Wednesday afternoon.

(Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Adam Jourdan and A“`listair Bell)

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