Forint scrapes together some gain versus euro
The forint was trading at 311.82 to the euro late Friday on the interbank forex market, up from 312.39 late Thursday. At 312.45 to the euro early Friday, the forint moved between 311.72 and 312.90, after a three-week high at 308.48 Tuesday intraday, and a four-day low at 313.14 Thursday intraday.
It is up 0.44% versus the euro from final quotes last Friday, after losing 0.28% last week. It is up 1.55% from the end of last year, after it lost 6.12% last year, and 1.95% in 2013.
While the euro fell versus the dollar, the Hungarian currency gained a bit against the common currency, and drifted further down versus the dollar, in the suspense-laden lull between Thursdayʼs EU summit ultimatum to Greece and a euro zone finance ministersʼ follow-up meeting planned for Saturday.
While German Bund prices fell, and euro area periphery sovereigns attracted demand in an optimistic reshuffle of cards ahead of crunch-time for Greece, the Hungarian ten-year government paperʼs yield fell by a mere 1 bp, unable to underpin the forint.
Neither was of much help some talk about Hungary nearing an upgrade from junk status.
Hungary could be upgraded into investment category at least by one of the three main rating agencies before the end of this year, Economy Ministry state secretary Gabor Orban told a website on Friday, followed by analystsʼ notes more or less in the same vein.
Deleveraging has been deeper in Hungary than at its regional peers and capital outflows from Hungary amid a US rate-increase cycle will likely be gradual, with Hungary able to easily manage this due to a strong balance of payment position. Meanwhile, Hungary will probably return to investment grade later this year, which could open up new funding sources, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note on Friday.
Morgan Stanley expects Moodyʼs to raise its outlook on Hungary to positive, from stable at present, on July 10 on recent improvement in growth, external debt and better prospects for the banking system. Morgan Stanley sees Moodyʼs to return Hungary back to investment grade probably next year.
But rate expectations reinforced by the mildly dovish Tuesday guidance of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) also held the forint in check. In its Friday note, Morgan Stanley saw another 20 bps of rate cuts by the MNB during the third quarter, delivered in smaller increments of 10 bps or so, versus the recent 15 bp clips, and a prolonged period of rates on hold until at least the second half of next year.
Also weighing on the forint was an announcement that the government planned legislation for the autumn to convert forex car and personal loans into forint debt at "preferential exchange rates," possibly on a voluntary basis, after it forced banks to convert forex household mortgages earlier in the year.
The forint traded at 279.69 to the dollar, down from 278.81 late Thursday. On Friday, it moved between 278.50 and 280.59, after a four-day high at 272.20 Monday intraday, and a seventeen-day low at 280.62 Thursday intraday.It was quoted at 299.39 to the Swiss franc, down from 297.54 late Thursday. Its range on Friday was 297.73 to 299.94, a six-day low, after a ten-day high at 295.29 Tuesday intraday. Since its crash to an all-time low at 378.49 on January 15 when the Swiss central bank scrapped its cap of 1.20 to the euro, it reached the highest at 281.07 on February 26.
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