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Argentina's economy seen hitting steepest fall since 2020 in March

FILE PHOTO: Argentina's surging prices adds urgency to new president's plan

By Hernan Nessi

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's economic activity index is expected to have shrunk 6.9% year-on-year in March, its deepest drop since 2020 and the fifth monthly contraction in a row, a Reuters poll on Tuesday showed.

The index slipped an estimated 7.2% in March from February, said the 13 local analysts in the survey.

The year-on-year contraction estimates ranged from 4% to 10.3%.

"The decline in sectors linked to domestic consumption, industry and construction is consolidating and deepening," said Pablo Besmedrisnik, economist and director of the consulting firm Invenomica, while noting mining and agriculture are among the sectors showing growth.

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The South American country's industrial production indicator showed a 21.2% slowdown year-on-year in March, government data showed.

Economists remain cautious about the end of the first half-year and beginning of the second half, predicting a gradual recovery.

"We don't see a dizzying recovery in activity for the first half of the year," said Federico Gonzalez Rouco, economist at Empiria Consultores. "We believe that inflation is in a process of deceleration but it is also accumulating risks associated with the foreign exchange market."

Statistics agency INDEC is expected to publish the official figures on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Editing by Richard Chang and Alistair Bell)