Currencies under pressure as ECB, Fed remain in focus

Fawad Maqsood July 29, 2019

 PRAGUE: Central Europe’s currencies remained weaker on Monday, with Hungary’s forint around a two-month low, amid caution in the region as global central banks begin easing policy.

Currencies lost last week after the European Central Bank laid out plans to loosen monetary policy, although it also sounded slightly more upbeat on the economy than some expected, taking some pressure off the euro.

The US Federal Reserve is likely to lower borrowing costs this week for the first time since the depths of the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

With the region’s central banks in a holding pattern on interest rates, the region should benefit from rate differentials. But investors at the moment look more focussed on the economic impacts of a global slowdown, analysts say.

“The zloty market, like other emerging markets, apparently focuses more on the reasons behind the anticipated looser policy of major central banks (i.e. concerns about further slowdown in the global economy) than on its direct results (a rates differential that would be relatively more favorable for the zloty),” PKO BP analysts in Warsaw said in a client note.

The zloty lost 0.1% to 4.277 to the euro by 0843 GMT. The Czech crown fell 0.2% to the weak side of 25.60 and Romanian leu also dropped 0.1%.The forint was stuck at 327.00 to the euro, around its lowest since the end of May.

Stock markets were mixed, with Warsaw’s blue-chip index off 0.5%.

Czech bond yields ticked up slightly.

The Czech National Bank will meet on Thursday and is widely expected to confirm its view of interest rate stability. Analysts foresee no further moves in policy this year, although markets price in a chance of a rate cut by the end of the year.

Central bank Vice-Governor Tomas Nidetzky said in an interview that ECB and Fed loosening does not necessarily mean the Czech bank must follow suit and said rate stability was still the most likely scenario for him.

Komercni Banka economist Viktor Zeisel said the region’s economies are remaining resilient in the face of a slowdown in the euro zone for now.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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