UPDATE 1-Argentina inflation eases in April, still remains high

Wed May 14, 2014 4:29pm EDT

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(Adds details for Jan-April inflation, background)

BUENOS AIRES May 14 (Reuters) - Argentine inflation eased in April, Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said on Wednesday, but still clocked in at 11.9 percent since the start of the year, one of the highest rates in the world.

Consumer prices in Latin America's No. 3 economy rose 1.8 percent in April, Kicillof said in a news conference, after gaining 2.6 percent in March. The median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists was for prices to climb 2.1 percent.

A sharp devaluation in the official peso exchange rate in January made imports more expensive. Private economists say that Argentina's inflation rate may be more than 30 percent in 2014, compared with about 25 percent last year.

Argentina revamped its consumer price index earlier this year in a bid to win back the trust of financial markets after years of blatantly underreporting inflation.

But the new index has so far continued to clock inflation at below analysts' estimates and has come under fire for failing to list the products measured.

The government has implemented unconventional measures like supermarket price caps in an attempt to control rampant inflation, while the central bank has hiked interest rates, tightening monetary policy.

Independent economists say the key issue is excessive deficit spending and the government needs to cut back expenditure and keep wage hikes under control. (Reporting by Sarah Marsh, Additional reporting by Nicolás Misculin; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andrew Hay)

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