BUX up after budget bill

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The Budapest Stock Exchange's main BUX index finished up 1.47% at 17,146.97 Thursday, after falling 0.82% Wednesday. It is down 7.63% from the end of last year, after it rose 2.15% in 2013. After four days of falls, the Budapest parquet corrected up as next year's budget bill came in with no new tax surprises compared to expectations.

A U-turn of Western markets late afternoon from losses to gains also helped.

The government's tax plans for next year weighed on the market recently, as new or higher special taxes on internet services and on a host of everyday staples from soaps and deodorants to detergents to stationary goods are likely to further hurt household consumption already weak on slowing employment growth.

However, the government intends to withdraw the levy on bank card purchases, but wants to substantially raise the food chain supervision fee for large retailers, which are typically foreign-owned, including Tesco.

Another positive is that the government raised its GDP growth expectation for this year to 3.2% from 3.1%, with inflation around nil and a real wage growth of 3.9%.

But it expects economic growth of 2.5% next year, with inflation at 1.8%, and real wage growth slowing to 1.8%.

The overall public deficit for next year is set at 2.4% of GDP, well below the 3% EU threshold and the 2.9% targeted for this year.

CEO of OTP, Sándor Csányi, said in a radio interview Thursday that OTP stood a good chance of acquiring the customers of Citibank’s consumer business as it leaves the Hungarian market. Citigroup announced two weeks ago its intention to exit its consumer businesses in 11 markets, including Hungary.

One or two large banks will exit Hungary and the ratio of state-owned and Hungarian-owned banks will continue to increase, Mr Csanyi also said.

MOL announced that the field development plan (FDP) for a block operated by its 100% local subsidiary in Kurdistan has been officially approved by the region's minister for natural resources.

OTP won 2.53% to HUF 4,050 on turnover of HUF 2.73 bln from a HUF 4.45 bln session total, 4% above half the daily average this year. MOL gained 0.57% to HUF 11,565 on turnover of HUF 614 mln. Magyar Telekom dropped 0.31% to HUF 323, a new more than five-month low, on turnover of HUF 263 mln. Richter advanced 2.18% to HUF 3,755 on turnover of HUF 728 mln. The bourse's mid-cap BUMIX went out 0.66% higher at 1,448.92.

Elsewhere in the region, Warsaw's WIG20 was down 0.25%, while Prague's PX rose 0.81%. Western Europe's major indices were all up ahead of their close Thursday, FTSE-100 in London 0.05%, DAX30 in Frankfurt 0.23%, and CAC40 in Paris 0.64%.

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