Argentine peso ends tumultuous 2019 down 37% against the dollar

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The Argentine peso ARS=RASL on Monday chalked up a 37% drop for 2019, closing out a tumultuous year in which the currency has plummeted against the dollar amid rising debt default fears, rampant inflation and domestic recession.

FILE PHOTO: Argentine one hundred peso bills are displayed in this picture illustration taken September 3, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/Illustration

The peso, its major losses from earlier in the year capped by currency controls in recent months, closed down 0.13% on Monday at 59.91 per dollar.

Argentina’s markets are closed on Tuesday for the New Year holiday.

The country’s markets and currency were battered in August when a steep primary election defeat for then-President Mauricio Macri jolted investor confidence in the South American nation with worries about a sharp political shift.

That dragged down the peso, the domestic S&P Merval .MERV equities index and the country's bonds, which fell into distressed territory over default fears as the government sought talks to restructure billions of dollars in debt.

Argentina’s over-the-counter bonds, however, have recovered slightly, warming to new Peronist President Alberto Fernandez, who has sought a more amiable approach to debt talks and looked to calm fears over heavy investor losses.

The country’s OTC bonds rose 8.5% on average in December, though they were still down 21% for the year.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s lifted Argentina’s long-term foreign currency rating out of “selective default” on Monday, saying that a non-payment issue earlier in the month had effectively been “cured.”

(GRAPHIC: Argentina's peso tumbles in 2019 - )

Reporting by Walter Bianchi; writing by Adam Jourdan; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler