June 13, 2019 / 9:41 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Argentina consumer prices rise 3.1% in May, in line with estimates

(Adds details on inflation figures, political context)

BUENOS AIRES, June 13 (Reuters) - Argentine consumer prices rose 3.1 percent in May, the government’s official statistics agency said on Thursday, in line with a Reuters poll of economists.

Accumulated inflation in the 12 months through May came to 57.3%, and year-to-date inflation was 19.2%, according to the National Census and Statistics Institute, known by its acronym, INDEC.

Inflation in Argentina - and the speed at which the government can bring it down - is likely to be a key issue in the nation’s closely watched presidential election scheduled for October.

If the current administration of center-right President Mauricio Macri can steadily chip away at inflation in the coming months, analysts say, he may beat back a tough challenge from the main opposition ticket, on which former leftist President Cristina Fernandez de Kircher is running as vice president.

However, if inflation exceeds expectations it could help deliver Argentines to the leftist opposition, which is narrowly leading the race, according to recent polls.

At 3.1%, May inflation was down from last month’s 3.4% reading. But it was also in line with market expectations, and remains high by historical standards.

In remarks following the publication of the figures, Argentine Central Bank President Guido Sandleris said the two most significant market uncertainties were the domestic presidential election and continued trade tensions between the United States and China.

He also reiterated expectations that inflation would continue falling. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath and Gram Slattery; Editing by Tom Brown)

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