Argentina country-specific exchange traded funds bucked the general downbeat trend on Friday, climbing ahead of a tight presidential race with primary elections on Sunday to provide a signal on who might win in October’s vote.
On Friday, the Global X MSCI Argentina ETF (NYSEArca: ARGT) advanced 3.8% and the iShares MSCI Argentina and Global Exposure ETF (AGT) increased 3.3%.
Conservative President Mauricio Macri is facing an opposition ticket including ex-President Cristina Fernández, Washington Post reports.
The party primaries are closely monitored in Argentina since they are held simultaneously and voting is obligatory, so they more-or-less act as a referendum on the candidates’ popularity in Latin American country or an early poll involving the entire electorate.
This year’s primaries will be “a great orchestra rehearsal (for the Oct 27 election) in which we are going to see which instruments will play, which will play loudly and which will be silenced,” Luis Tonelli, a political science professor at the University of Buenos Aires, told the Washington Post.
More importantly for the equity market, observers are waiting to see whether or not the business-friendly Macri or center-left ticket of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández will poll favorably on Sunday.
Alberto Fernández was the former president’s chief of staff during her term from 2007-2011. Cristina Fernández surprised many when she announced that her intent to run as vice presidential candidate alongside Alberto Fernández.
If no one takes the lead in October, there would be a November runoff.
The markets view Macri more favorably after he assumed the presidency in 2015, promising to revive a stagnate economy with free-market policies, greater transparency and an opening to international markets. He also said the government would improve relations with the United States, which had worsened under Fernández.
However, the economy is currently suffering through high inflation, a plunging peso currency and 10% unemployment, which has weighed on Macri’s popularity.
A Fernández win could hit markets, according to Matías Carugati, chief economist at Management & Fit consultancy. “The closer Alberto (Fernández) is to 45% support, the more nervous investors will be, because that is the percentage that defines” a win in October, he said.
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