The end of the last week was relatively calm for CEE currencies. The Czech koruna, the Polish zloty as well as the Hungarian forint hovered in narrow ranges around their current levels and sell-offs only hit the Ukrainian hryvnia and the Russian ruble. The ruble weakened to an all-time low against the central bank’s basket and Russia’s central bank unexpectedly raised its key interest rate by 1.5 percentage point to 7% today in early morning in order to regain financial stability. Nevertheless, the possibility that the contagion spreads is not off the table, especially if tensions grew into a bloody conflict. In addition, although the bilateral trade of the Czech Republic, Poland as well as Hungary with Ukraine is only marginal, possible sanctions from European Union against Russia due to violation of international agreement would undoubtedly affect international trade of CEE Europe, especially of Poland. We however do not think sanctions are very likely.
Regarding today’s regional data, the most watched are manufacturing PMI. In Poland, PMI beat the forecast as it increased from 55.4 in January to 55.9 in February and signals that economic recovery is gaining momentum. Also the rise of the Czech PMI to 56.5 (the highest level in almost three years) was a positive surprise. Hungarian PMI felt to 54.3; nevertheless, it is compounded by different methodology and traditionally suffers from high volatility. February’s PMI still represents result above average of the past three years. Nonetheless, it seems that market pays little attention to positive numbers. Growing Ukraine tension seems to weigh on the region.