Forint recovers on interbank market

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The forint was trading at 311.02 to the euro late Thursday on the interbank forex market, up from 312.64 late Wednesday. At 312.53 to the euro early Thursday, the forint moved between 310.46 and 313.37, a one-week low. It reached a nearly seven-week high at 306.44 on Monday intraday, after hitting an all-time low at 327.62 on January 15.

After an early dip, the Hungarian currency firmed in line with most other Central European currencies as investors reassessed the chances of local interest rate cuts after the Fed signaled late Wednesday that US rate rises were still likely this year.

That may slightly curb the chances of further monetary easing in Central Europe, but deflation risks and the ECB's asset purchases could still argue for neighbouring central banks to ease policy.

Emerging-market currencies are undervalued by an average of 0.9%, according to a proprietary valuation framework developed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists, which estimates the long-term equilibrium exchange rate for 22 emerging-market currencies. Latin American currencies remain 14% overvalued on average, according to the model, while Asia as well as the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa region still look cheap. Asian currencies are 5% undervalued, while EEMEA shifted from a 5% to 9% average undervaluation over the past year, mainly driven by Hungary and Poland, according to BofA/ML.

The forint gained the most versus the Swiss franc which fell sharply against major currencies amid renewed speculation of intervention by the Swiss National Bank, which could be made cheaper now while the dollar gathers strength on its own after the Fed's guidance.

The forint traded at 274.70 to the dollar, up from 276.96 late Wednesday. On Thursday, it moved between 273.23 and 277,66. Its latest all-time low against the dollar was 280.33 on January 15.

It was quoted at 298.09 to the Swiss franc, up from 305.92 late Wednesday. Its range on Thursday was 297.42, a two-week high, to 305.67. It plunged to an all-time low at 378.49 on January 15, and has never been under 300 since then until Thursday.

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