Forint falls on interbank market

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The forint was trading at 303.31 to the euro late Friday on the interbank forex market, down from 300.16 late Thursday. At 300.15 to the euro early Friday, the forint moved between 300.08 and 303.52, a second one-month low in two days, after a six-day high at 296.82 Tuesday intraday. It is down 0.75% versus the euro from final quotes last Friday after sinking 1.31% over the previous week. It is up 4.40% from the end of last year, after it lost 6.12% last year, and 1.95% in 2013.

Recent US data pushed back expectations for an early Fed tightening, but the dollarʼs fall against the euro slowed on Friday, causing the Hungarian currency to lose out to both at the end of the day.

A regional rally early this week stalled anyway, due to concerns that Greece will run out of money and may quit the euro zone, and Thursdayʼs weak euro zone purchasing manager index figures.

In line with the region, the forint eased, too, but remained stuck to key psychological levels in the immediate vicinity of 300 to the euro. Economic growth prospects still buoy the forint despite Fridayʼs data on slowing annual retail trade growth in February, but the National Bank of Hungaryʼs continuing easing bias may cap the upside of the forint.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch sees Hungaryʼs main monetary policy rate ending this year at 1.35% from the present 1.80% reached by two 15bps cuts in March and April. BOfAMLʼs is one of the lowest forecasts for the policy rate bottom this year versus the consensus forecast for around 1.5%. But the introduction of a tolerance band to the central bankʼs inflation target implies more monetary policy flexibility, BofAML said in a note on Friday. More rate cuts are also warranted given the forintʼs appreciation against the euro since mid-January and benign inflation, it said. BOfAML sees another 15bps rate cut in May, followed by 10bps cuts after that.

The forint traded at 279.01 to the dollar, down from 277.24 late Thursday. On Friday, it moved between 275.57, a more than two-week high, and 280.48 after a ten-day low at 282.79 Thursday intraday before the latest, dismal, US data on jobless claims and manufacturing.

It was quoted at 292.88 to the Swiss franc, down from 290.43 late Thursday. Its range on Friday was 289.26 to 293.47, a five-day low. 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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