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)