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Forint further up on interbank market

MNB

The forint was trading at 304.38 the euro late Friday on the interbank forex market, up from 304.62 late Thursday. At 304.85 the euro early Friday, the forint moved between 304.02 and 304.85. It touched a new close to six-month high at 303.90 on Thursday.

It is up 0.58% on the week after advancing 0.93% over the previous week. It is down 2.35% year-to-date after sinking 1.95% last year.

The Hungarian forint firmed to the euro, buoyed by shifting expectations of further rate cuts, but it fell in dollar terms, while the euro plunged against the dollar.

Hungarian benchmark sovereign yields also fell after ECB chief Mario Draghi said the bank was ready to act fast to accelerate stubbornly low inflation. As corresponding German yields fell more, the risk premium of Hungarian sovereigns widened supportively, while narrowed to US treasuries.

In a Reuters poll conducted between 17 and 20 November, all the 15 analysts projected that the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) would not touch its record low 2.1% base rate at its meeting next week. But several of them noted that the risk of a rate cut early next year has increased lately.

Societe Generale expects the MNB to want to maintain policy rates at the current level of 2.1% over the medium term. Market participants believe that disinflationary forces may allow for further policy easing in Hungary, but are pricing in only 10 bps in cuts over the next 12 months, SocGen said in a note on Friday.

The forint has been firming since 10 November when the central bank offered commercial banks euros to underpin the government's plan to convert retail foreign currency loans into forint debts.

The forint traded at 245.24 to the dollar, down from 242.93 late Thursday. On Friday, it moved between 242.29 and 245.54, a four-day low. It reached an almost one-month high at 242.00 on Wednesday. It was quoted at 253.23 to the Swiss franc, a hair down from 253.19 late Thursday. Its range on Friday was 252.77, a more than one-month high, to 253.66.

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