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Forint firms in euro, falls in dollar

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The forint was trading at 312.20 to the euro late Monday on the interbank forex market, up from final quotes at 312.65 on Friday and 312.55 on Sunday. on Friday and 312.55 on Sunday.

At 312.62 to the euro early Monday, the forint moved between 311.25, a four-day high, and 312.85, after an almost tow-week high at 309.01 early last Thursday, and a nearly one-month low at 314.20 later also on Thursday.

Over last week, the forint eased 0.24% versus the euro, after losing 0.40% over the week before.

Underpinned by fresh data on international reserves of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) laboriously climbing back to near end-2014 levels after some depletion earlier this year due to the conversion of forex household mortgages into forint debt, the Hungarian currency gained some ground versus the euro, but still fell against the dollar as the latter continued to strengthen versus the euro.

The euro resumed its falling path against the dollar as the upward pressure from the ECBʼs smaller-than-expected easing last week seems to be history by now, and investors refocus on the US Fedʼs probable tightening next week.

The forintʼs gain in euro, however, remained limited as the government sold on Monday HUF 25 bln of four-week Treasury bills instead of a planned HUF 40 bln.

The Hungarian government restarted selling the bills, which serve as a short-term liquidity instrument, last month after a long break.

The cut was due to sharply falling demand, and auction yield grew to 1.15% from 1.00% a week ago, well over the 0.83% secondary market yield on the nearest, three-month, Hungarian sovereign Monday afternoon.

The result can be a side effect of global investors reweighting away from emerging market assets as these have become riskier due to falling raw material prices and dimmer economic growth outlook. Although low commodity prices do not pose a direct downside risk to Hungary, its effects in terms of decelerating world trade and demand do, and MNB policies that drove down Hungarian yields until early November also scared away some foreign investors, analysts add.

Two weeks ago, the MNB all but promised further unconventional easing at its next policy meeting next week, which does not help auction demand and the forint either, especially with the US tightening at the corner.

With the probable MNB easing in mind, even the outlook for accelerating inflation in Hungary could not give a serious lift to the forint.

RBS forecasts Hungaryʼs consumer price inflation will have accelerated in November sharply to an annual 0.7% from 0.1% in October. The acceleration was likely driven mostly by low fuel prices a year earlier with some additional pressure from food prices due to a weak 2015 harvest gradually feeding through into the headline reading, the bank said in a note on Monday ahead of publication of official data Tuesday morning.

The forint traded at 287.72 to the dollar, down from final quotes at 287.19 on Friday and 287.22 on Sunday. On Monday, the forint moved between 287.02 and 288.83, a four day low, after a one-month high at 284.75 late last Thursday, and a third more than fifteen-year low within a month at 295.76 on November 27.

It was quoted at 287.19 to the Swiss franc, up from 287.62 late Friday and 288.12 late Sunday. Its range on Monday was 287.14 to 288.53, after a nearly three-week low at 289.40 Friday intraday, and a twelve-day high at 284.17 last Tuesday intraday. Since its crash to an all-time low at 378.49 to the franc 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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