Argentina's sky-high inflation eases slightly to 5.1% in May

Argentina inflation soars to highest level in years, in Buenos Aires
A vendor weighs produce in a market as inflation in Argentina hits its highest level in years, causing food prices to spiral, in Buenos Aires, Argentina April 12, 2022. Picture taken April 12, 2022. REUTERS/Mariana Nedelcu/File Photo

BUENOS AIRES, June 14 (Reuters) - Argentina's monthly inflation clocked in at 5.1% in May, still painfully high but below expectations and slower than the two previous months as the South American grains producer battles to bring down consumer prices.

That was below the median forecast of 5.2% that local and foreign analysts polled by Reuters gave. The rate was 6% in April and a year-high 6.7% in March. The annual inflation rate, however, is expected to top 70% by the end of the year.

"Although this represents a slowdown in the monthly variation, this must be weighed against annual inflation that continues to grow and will end the year above 70%," said Eugenio Mari, chief economist at Libertad y Progreso.

The rolling 12-month inflation rate ticked up to 60.7% in May while prices year-to-date were up 29.3%, Argentina's INDEC statistics agency said.

The government has signaled the worst of inflation on a monthly basis may be behind the country.

"The month of March was the month of highest inflation that we expect for the entire year," Economy Minister Martin Guzman told local radio.

A poll by Argentina's central bank recently hiked its forecast for annual inflation to 72.6% from 65.1% previously, a trend which has sparked regular interest rate hikes as the entity tries to rein in prices.

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Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Writing by Adam Jourdan and Carolina Pulice Editing by Alistair Bell and Nick Zieminski

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