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ARGENTINA LAUNCHES NEW AUSTERITY PLAN

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Argentina's second major economic austerity plan in five months took effect Monday as the currency was devalued by 53.8 percent, gasoline prices increased by 59 percent and costs of other government services are expected to rise within days.

A bank holiday was declared for Monday to give the Central Bank time to publish circulars on the changes.The new measures, aimed at bolstering the nation's staggering economy, were announced just before midnight Sunday by the government of President Carlos Menem.

Sunday's devaluation set the dollar at 1,000 australes.