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Argentine Consumer Prices Rose Most in Almost Two Years

Argentina’s consumer prices rose the most in almost two years in January, led by an increase in leisure and transportation costs, the national statistics agency said.

Inflation in South America’s second-biggest economy accelerated to 0.9 percent from December, the fastest pace since March 2010, when prices rose 1.1 percent. Consumer prices rose 9.7 percent in January from a year earlier, the Buenos Aires-based agency said today.

Leisure costs, which include tourism and entertainment, rose 2.5 percent in the month, while transportation rose 1.9 percent, fueled by an increase in subway rates. About 22 percent of the December increase in the index resulted from a 127 percent increase in Buenos Aires subway fares that was ordered by the government of the, the agency said.

Economists and politicians have questioned official inflation and gross domestic product reports since January 2007, when then-President Nestor Kirchner changed personnel at the statistics agency to what he said aimed to “improve operations.”

On Feb. 1, the International Monetary Fund criticized Argentina’s “absence of progress” in improving statistics and said it needs to take steps to ensure it meets “the obligations of all member countries to provide accurate data” within 180 days.

Opposition lawmakers said on Feb. 8 that prices rose 1.9 percent last month, based on estimates of private economists they didn’t identify.

Early last year, Interior Commerce Secretary Guillermo Moreno imposed fines of as much as 500,000 pesos ($115,000) on researchers for reporting that prices were rising faster than officially reported. Ecolatina and Orlando Ferreres & Asociados were among those sanctioned.

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