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Interfax: Analysts surprised by 8.5% revaluation of Slovak crown against euro

19.3.2007 17:32

PRAGUE. MARCH 19. INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - The late-Friday upwards revaluation of the Slovak crown by 8.5% against the euro caught the market by surprise, analysts said Monday, with some admitting they had not anticipated the move before early 2008.

"Slovakia surprised with a revaluation of the ERM II [European Exchange Rate Mechanism II] central rate by 8.5%," Komercni banka analyst Anne-Francoise Bluher said in a comment Monday. "We expected such a move, but not this early, i.e. we expected this to happen in Q1 08."

The revaluation - announced late-Friday in a joint statement from the European Central Bank and Slovakia - was the first time in eight years that any of the currencies within the ERM II - the so-called waiting room for countries wanting to join the euro - have been revalued.

As of Monday, the new central parity of the Slovak crown to the euro is EUR/SKK 35.44, the Slovak National Bank (NBS) said Monday.

"[The] central parity of the Slovak crown in ERM II has been revaluated as of March 19, 2007," the NBS said in a press release. The move came upon a request of the Slovak government, the NBS said.

"All in all, we find this decision is very surprising," Danske Bank senior analyst Lars Christensen said, with a revaluation of the Slovak crown at odds with the recent actions of the NBS.

"[The NBS] has on a number of occasions ruled out a revaluation and has even intervened in the FX markets to weaken the SKK on more than one occasion recently," Christensen added. "Furthermore, the NBS has been quite confident that inflationary pressures were under control and some NBS board members have even been in favor of rate cuts.

Slovakia's request for the reevaluation came following an agreement with finance ministers from eurozone countries and the European Central Bank (ECB), as well as finance ministers and central bank governors of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia, the Slovak central bank said.

The ECB said in a press release that the revaluation was justified by the country's underlying fundamentals - figures applauded by analysts.

"We think January's excellent trade balance figures triggered this move when they registered a SKK 12.2 bln year-on-year y/y improvement," Komercni banka's Bluher said.

"This indicates that not only we, but also the NBS, are convinced that the trade balance is at the beginning of a significant improving trend and this will generate considerable appreciation pressure on SKK," Bluher.

The move should reduce inflationary pressures in Slovakia and make the country's euro entry planned for 2009 more likely, according to Danske Bank's Christensen.

The revaluation has created room for further appreciation of the Slovak crown, according to Bluher. "We believe the NBS is more likely to start cutting its key rates as the stronger crown will help to bring down inflation," she said.

The Slovak unit firmed more than 2.8% to record EUR/SKK 33.00 Monday morning in reaction to the news.


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