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Forint Firms, Markets Eye Possibility of Further Rate Hikes

BUDAPEST, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The Hungarian forint firmed on Tuesday, outperforming its peers as expectations of further rate hikes from the central bank overshadowed global market worries over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The forint was up 0.41% and was trading at 366.49 per euro.

Market players' expectations that the central bank might decide to widen its interest rate corridor later today at its scheduled non-rate-setting meeting was supporting the forint, two FX traders in Budapest said.

"If they widen the corridor, that is a strong signal that they are willing to hike the one-week deposit rate further if needed, which could be positive for the forint," one trader said.

The central bank's press department declined comment.

Hungary's central bank raised its one-week deposit rate by 40 basis points to 2.9% last Thursday at its weekly tender, delivering the second increase in the deposit rate in a week. At the moment, the bank's overnight and one-week collateralized loan rate is 3.05%, which is the top of the interest rate corridor.

The Polish zloty firmed 0.16% to 4.6775 versus the common currency after flash CPI data for November came in at 7.7%, higher than expected.

Inflation data could shape market expectations before the December meeting of the monetary policy council and could temporarily distract from global factors, mostly the new COVID-19 variant, Bank Millennium wrote in a client note.

Emerging markets were pressured by a warning by U.S. drugmaker Moderna's chief who said that COVID-19 vaccines were unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant as they have been against the Delta version. L1N2SL0LZ

The Czech crown was up 0.14% and was trading at 25.565 to the euro as third-quarter data showed that the economy fared better than expected amid supply snags and falling exports, with domestic demand boosting GDP by 1.5% quarter-on-quarter. 

Most stock markets in the region fell, with Prague leading losses by plunging 1.08%. Warsaw was 0.79% lower.

Budapest was down by 0.78%. But shares in 4iG were 3.86% higher by 0941 GMT after the IT company said that it was going to buy 100% of Digi Tavkozlesi Kft and its subsidiaries, the second in Hungary's fixed voice, internet and TV market.

Additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

Source: Reuters

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