Argentina inflation spikes in February due to electricity rate hikes

(Adds comment, details on salary negotiations) BUENOS AIRES, March 9 (Reuters) - Consumer prices in greater Buenos Aires rose 2.5 percent in February over the previous month, Argentina's official Indec statistics agency said on Thursday, above median expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.1 percent rise. That was nearly double 1.3 percent inflation in January, driven by an increase in electricity rates after President Mauricio Macri cut subsidies to consumers as part of the center-right government's efforts to close a yawning fiscal deficit. The government will continue to raise electricity prices in March, while gasoline prices are expected to increase in April. Regulated price increases present a challenge to the central bank's goal of inflation between 12 and 17 percent in 2017. Private economists see consumer prices rising 20.8 percent this year, according to the latest central bank poll. Argentina does not publish countrywide inflation data, but consumer prices for the greater Buenos Aires area are used as a proxy. Macri revamped Indec after taking office in late 2015 due to...