PRAGUE — The Czech crown led central European currency weakness on Tuesday as a stronger U.S. dollar weighed on the region, although stock gains for Hungarian oil and gas group MOL pushed Budapest up the most in over a month.
Budapest’s BUX index climbed 1.5% on a more than 3% rise in MOL’s shares after an update on refinery and petrochemical margins enticed investors.
In Prague, the PX index nudged higher and held above the 1,100 level to stick around highs last seen before the COVID-19 pandemic struck markets in February 2020.
Pacing the market is a rise in shares of utility CEZ as investors expect a generous dividend proposal after the sale of some foreign assets.
Central European stock markets have bounced around peaks in the past months, following global markets higher.
Prague has gained nearly 8% already this year and Budapest and Warsaw are up 2%-4%.
Currencies, too, have scratched out gains and analysts see a further rise, according to the latest Reuters poll.
In Poland, the zloty eased 0.15% to 4.552 per euro by 0926 GMT on Tuesday, following a purchasing managers’ index that showed growth ahead for industry, although sentiment did not improve as much as expected.
Markets were also awaiting a Polish interest rate decision due on Wednesday, with no change expected, but the focus was on what the bank might say after inflation jumped outside policymakers’ target range.
“The result of the Monetary Policy Council meeting promises to be interesting in the face of the recent spike in inflation,” Bank Millennium said.
Czech markets also eyed a central bank policy meeting on Thursday. The Czech bank is seen as becoming the first in the region later this year to begin rate hikes.
The crown, leading the region with 1.5% gain in 2021, eased 0.2% to 25.84 to the euro after touching its highest since February in the previous session.
“There has been some good flow going through as we had got through the 25.800 level,” a dealer said.
(Reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague, Anita Komuves in Budapest and Alan Charlish in Warsaw; editing by Uttaresh.V)