New Capital-Requirement Rules Push Argentine Stocks Lower


BUENOS AIRES (Dow Jones)–Argentine stocks tumbled Friday after the Central Bank of Argentina said late Thursday it would force financial institutions to abide by higher minimum-capital requirements.

The Merval index fell 2.65% to 2,831.58 points in volume totaling ARS48.3 million ($11.2 million).

«The most significant thing today was the sharp decline in financial stocks because of the new capital requirements,» said Ruben Pascuali, a trader at Mayoral brokerage. «This partially restricts the payment of dividends. It is clearly bad news for the sector.»

Grupo Financiero Galicia SA (GGAL.BA, GGAL) led the declines, dropping 5.9% to ARS3.54; Banco Frances (FRAN.BA) fell 5.5% to ARS9.59; Banco Patagonia SA (BPAT.BA, BPATL) slid 3.2% to ARS3.61.

The only Merval company to rise was the steel producer Tenaris (TS, TEN.MI), which rose 0.16% to ARS91.90.

Under the new capital requirements, starting Feb. 1, local banks will have to start raising the amount of capital required to guard against unexpected losses to 75% of total capital before distributing dividends, the Central Bank said. The minimum-capital requirement will be equivalent to an average of 15% of gross income over the last three years.

The move will increase the total capitalization requirement for the banking system by about 1.2%, the central bank said. Banks must meet half of the new requirement by February, 75% of it by August and be in full compliance by December.

The Global X FTSE Argentina 20 ETF fell 1.08% to $11.95.

Bonds were mixed. The benchmark 2033 peso bond was unchanged at ARS137.50, yielding about 12%.

The peso was largely unchanged against the U.S. dollar at ARS4.3345 on the MAE local foreign-exchange wholesale market, compared with ARS4.336 in the previous session.

Last year, the peso weakened 7.6% against the dollar.

-By Taos Turner, Dow Jones Newswires; 5411-4103-6728;


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