The koruna has weakened further, although the first days of the week were not bad. The CE currencies tracked the major equity markets, but differed in performance. While the zloty is roughly flat, the koruna and the forint are weaker. The regional events were not very important for trading.
The Czech National Bank meeting brought no change in interest rates, the 2W repo remains at 0.75 pct., as expected. The statement did not surprise either as it suggested that the rates will likely stay stable in the months to come. The bank sees risks for inflation projection as balanced. The upside risks consist of the currently elevated inflation and its short-term outlook, while the stronger koruna and the outlook for rates abroad are downside risks for the projection. According to Governor Singer the monetary council favors keeping rates stable to cutting them. The meeting was neutral for the koruna as the outcome is in line with expectations.
The Hungarian central bank has left interest rates unchanged, too. The meeting result was in line with expectations. It has confirmed that the outlook for rates is stable. A cut is unlikely until the government reaches deal with the IMF/EU and until there is evidence that inflation eases.
In Europe, the most important topic was the rescue funds. On Friday, the Eurozone finance ministers met to agree on a rescue fund capacity increase. Compared with the previous indications, the final agreement is a compromise, raising the rescue funds to 700bn euro, while the Eurozone members will stay ready to boost it to 800 billion if needed. The news is roughly neutral for the markets. Thanks to the LTRO, the second bailout for Greece and this rescue fund increase, concerns about the European debt crisis have eased. However, no other similar step is on the horizon. Conversely, the persistent problems may come to focus: Spain fails to consolidate public finance and faces protests against more austerity including the general strike this week. Moreover, Portuguese yields remain very high, although they have already dropped from the January peak. S&P reminded that Greece is still a risk, too, saying that the country will likely have to restructure its debt once again.
The Fed´s Chairman Bernanke said that continued accommodative policy would be needed for further decrease in unemployment. The Fed does not rule out further options to support growth, should the recovery falter. Although we do not see another QE on the horizon, the statements suggest that the Fed does not turn hawkish despite the last promising data from the labor market. It was positive for riskier assets this week and also helped the euro to strengthen against the US dollar.
However, some of the recent data was not good, such as durable goods orders and the Chicago PMI, and weighed on the risk appetite. Moreover, crude oil fell on speculations about tapping strategic oil reserves.
week, the focus will be on the US ISM and labor market data that may further influence expectations about the Fed policy. The ECB will decide on interest rates, but the meeting will likely not be very important. The bank is not expected to announce any changes in rates or other policy tools.
In the Czech Republic, some data from the real sector is scheduled. Our estimates are in line with the consensus. The data should confirm that the economy has been stagnating or marginally expanding in the 1Q.