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NBP’s Gilowska: “Interest rates should not stay negative”

NBP’s Gilowska: “Interest rates should not stay negative”

17.5.2011 11:20

Czech Republic
Despite surprisingly strong current account balance figures, the koruna traded more or less flat. The favorable development in foreign trade was not offset by dividend outflows as much as initially expected and the balance came out in surprising surplus of 2.66 billion CZK. We continue to believe that in light of dovish CNB board, the Czech koruna should remain under moderate downward pressure. From a technical point of view, the next barrier should be at 200-day moving average, currently 24.56 EUR/CZK.

The Hungarian forint stabilized around the 268.00 level during the day after it dipped to a 2-month low of 269.00. The central bank decided to keep the base rate unchanged at 6.00%, which isl in line with expectations. A favourable inflation outlook and a relatively strong currency were the main reasons behind the decision as the central bank sees the 3% inflation target achievable by end-2012. Should however inflation disappoint on the upside, the risk of another rate hike would return. The FRA market is currently pricing in a 50% probability for a 25 bps. rate hike.
Long-term forward spread has widened with the recent currency weakening and the 5y5y forward spread rose to 285-290bps, up from the 250-260 bps territory some weeks ago. This suggests that the market has probably concerns about either the inflation outlook or the fiscal consolidation path, which may keep investors sidelined for now.

The Polish zloty slightly appreciated on Monday, even though the deficit of current account again surprised on the upside as irt reached 1.376 billion EUR.
For the first time since the monetary policy meeting which was held last Wednesday, two members of the Monetary Policy Council (MPC) made remarks. Zyta Gilowska, who backed all decisions to keep rates unchanged last year, said yesterday that it was important not to allow the official interest rate to remain negative in real terms. She also added that she worried about secondary effects of high commodity prices. A second mentioned member who made few comments was traditionally dovish Elzbieta Chojna-Duch who said that no wage pressures had been apparent and that the effect of high commodity prices is slowly fading.
Clearly, the situation in the MPC is much less clear now. According to available information,
president Belka lost his median-voter role (at least at May’s meeting). Hence, we revise our scenario. We think that two more hikes hang in the air this year. We newly bet on the first hike during Q3/2011 whereas the second
one could take place during Q4/2011.

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