UPDATE 1-Argentine inflation lower-than-expected in November

* Food prices rise 0.9 percent, clothing up 1.2 percent

* Reuters poll forecast 0.9 percent

* Analysts say “real” inflation at least twice gov’t rate
(Recasts, adds details, background)

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 15 (BestGrowthStock) – Argentine inflation
(ARCPI=ECI: ) came in at a lower-than-expected 0.7 percent in
November, driven by clothing and food prices but slowing from
the previous month, the INDEC national statistics agency said
on Wednesday.

Last month’s figure was below the median outlook for 0.9
percent in a Reuters poll of four economic analysts, who said
the government continues to underreport real inflation running
at least twice the official figure.

Wednesday’s data release brings official 12-month inflation
to 11 percent, but most private forecasts expect inflation to
end the year at between 25 percent and 30 percent.

“To sum up, 2010 will close with inflation of 27 percent,
exceeding the level recorded in 2007 and 2008 by several points
and making the biggest rise since (early 2002),” the Buenos
Aires-based consulting firm Ecolatina wrote in a report.

The INDEC national statistics agency said heavily-weighted
food and drinks prices rose 0.9 percent last month while
clothing prices climbed 1.2 percent.

Consumer groups, opposition politicians and renegade
statistics workers accuse Argentina’s center-left government of
under-reporting inflation for the past four years for political
gain as well as to save on inflation-linked bond payments.

Some local media had speculated that November’s figure
might come in a little higher than previous months after the
government recently sought help from the International Monetary
Fund to create a new nationwide consumer price index.

An IMF mission met this week with government officials to
begin work on the new price gauge.[ID:nN06208420]

Argentina’s consumer price marked 0.8 percent in October
and in November 2009.

(For an inflation graphic: http://r.reuters.com/gyp94q)

According to unofficial estimates that double or triple the
INDEC numbers, Argentina currently has the second-highest
inflation rate in Latin America after Venezuela.

Inflation is a major concern for President Cristina
Fernandez because it erodes Argentines’ purchasing power and
the competitive advantage that a weak peso gives to the
country’s exporters.

It also increases the risk of labor unrest when wage talks
get underway in March or April 2011.
(Reporting by Helen Popper and Luis Andres Henao; Editing by Diane Craft)

UPDATE 1-Argentine inflation lower-than-expected in November