UPDATE 1-Argentina Feb trade surplus narrows to $44 mln, far below expectations

Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:40pm EDT

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BUENOS AIRES, March 20 (Reuters) - Argentina's trade surplus totaled $44 million in February, the government announced on Thursday, 91.6 percent tighter than the surplus registered in the same month last year and far below market expectations.

A recent poll of eight analysts by Reuters had forecast a median $363 million trade surplus for February.

A healthy trade surplus is crucial for Argentina, which has been virtually shut out of international credit markets after its 2002 sovereign bond default.

But confidence in Latin America's No. 3 economy has been wrecked by tumbling central bank reserves, a wobbly currency, one of the world's highest inflation rates and a gnarl of currency controls that has choked off access to dollars. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein, editing by G Crosse)

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