Argentina seeks market makers to help stabilize the peso: sources

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s central bank wants to license market makers to help stabilize its embattled peso currency when the Treasury starts newly announced dollar sales in April, two people with direct knowledge of the plans told Reuters on Friday.

The bank hopes the market makers, dealers who agree to buy and sell at set prices, would bolster liquidity in the exchange market to help avoid the sharp gyrations the peso has suffered in recent weeks when it hit a record low of 42.5 pesos per dollar in thin trading.

“We are going to take advantage of the existence of this market auction to promote the creation of market makers in the FX market, something that does not exist now,” said one of the people. “It is something that we are talking with banks and it will most likely start together with the Treasury bids.”

Both sources asked not to be named because the plan has not been made public. Argentina’s central bank declined to comment.

Argentina’s treasury minister Nicolás Dujovne revealed on Thursday that the treasury would sell $9.6 billion in dollars from April until the end of the year via daily auctions of $60 million, aiming to acquire pesos to pay for ongoing expenses.

The announcement came after a sharp fall in the peso, dragged down by emerging doubts about the progress of the economy and rising political uncertainty generated by the upcoming general elections in October.

The second person said the dollar auctions “would provide liquidity at a time when it is possible that, given the uncertainty of the electoral process, the market will have this kind of dynamic,” referring to market volatility.

Argentina’s peso has remained recently within a non-intervention trading band that came into effect last year, but the central bank is concerned about volatility in a market where there can be low liquidity.

“One thing is the value (of the peso), and another thing is when the variations are very abrupt and with little liquidity,” the second person said. “That type of dynamic is disruptive.”

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Phil Berlowitz