January 9, 2012

Markets Shrug Off Hungary Downgrade

IMF policy requirements seen as likely to be met

Despite the fact that Fitch Ratings downgraded Hungary on Friday to junk status, joining Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, markets seemed to shrug off the news on Monday as the forint rose for a third day.

Investors apparently believe that Prime Minister Viktor Orban will scuttle policies that the International Monetary Fund has said are unacceptable to a rescue package.

Bloomberg reported that Orban had refused to abandon new central bank regulations to which the IMF and the European Union had objected, and over which the two bodies had broken off talks with Hungarian leaders last week. On Sunday, however, the Hungarian prime minister said in a news interview that the country was prepared to accept “any kind” of credit line that boosts the country’s market financing.

Peter Karsai, a trader at Commerzbank in Budapest, said in a statement, “There’s been a 180-degree turn in communications, now the focus is on action. If we want the IMF safety net, the wish list of the IMF and the European Union needs to be implemented.”

In a bond auction on Thursday, as previously reported by AdvisorOne.com, the country failed to raise its target amount of funds. That, coupled with its deteriorating financial situation, seems to have convinced Hungarian leaders that they must adhere to the wishes of the IMF and EU in order to obtain a bailout.

Peter Csaszar, a Warsaw, Poland-based equities analyst at KBC Securities, warned in a statement that it was too early to shop for bargains: “While we see Hungarian assets as cheap, it may be too early to ‘buy on weakness’ given the stubbornness and inertia of Hungarian policymakers as well as the looming risk of another round of eurozone crises.”

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