* Czech central bank not expected to remove crown cap * Czech 2-year bonds trade at 2-week low yields * Good auction seen in Hungary on loose central bank policy * Croatian stocks tumble on concerns over food group Agrokor By Sandor Peto and Jason Hovet BUDAPEST/PRAGUE, March 30 Czech short-term government debt firmed on Thursday as the country's central bank (CNB) holds its last meeting before the end of its "hard commitment" to keep its cap on the crown's value. The bank has pledged to maintain the cap, which has been keeping the crown weaker than 27 to the euro since late 2013, at least until the end of the first quarter. It is not expected to change its record low interest rates or to abandon the cap at the meeting. It is due to publish its decisions at 1200 GMT. The CNB has tripled its forex reserves since 2013 to defend the cap and speculative buying of the crown and Czech government debt, mainly short-term papers, has surged this year. The yield on 2-year Czech bonds was bid at a 2-week low -0.58 percent on Thursday, down 9 basis points. "I am expecting a confirmation of the end of the (central bank's) firm commitment but a continuation of interventions for the time being and (a message of) the possibility to stop when the CNB sees appropriate," one Prague-based fixed income trader said. Fundamentals should strengthen the crown, but accumulated crown buying positions worth tens of billions of euros make it uncertain how Czech markets will behave after the cap is removed, probably in April or May, analysts have said. "We would not regard the exit of the FX regime as the start of a one-way CZK (crown) appreciation streak, but would rather expect significant volatility possibly well into Q3 2017," said Raiffeisen analyst Wofgang Ernst in a note. The crown's implied euro exchange rate was near multi-month highs in forwards contracts. Elsewhere in Central Europe, Zagreb's stock index fell as much as 4.5 percent in early trade due to a plunge of the units of unlisted Agrokor, the biggest food producer and retailer in the Balkans. The decline followed news that the Croatian government may propose a law on shielding the economy from troubles involving big firms and about a possible repayment freeze deal with Agrokor creditors. In Hungary, government bond yields dropped further by a few basis points, with 3-year bonds trading at 1.18 percent, at 2-month lows, as Thursday's bond auction in Budapest is expected to draw strong demand. "The Hungarian central bank's dovish stance (after its meeting on Tuesday) surprised many foreign investors, so this will be a good auction," one trader said. The stock of Hungarian oil group MOL fell as much as 2.5 percent after Czech electricity company CEZ conditionally sold its 7.5 percent stake in MOL. CEE SNAPS AT 1052 MARKETS HOT CET CURRENCIES Lates Previ Daily Chang t ous e bid close chang in e 2017 Czech crown 27.02 27.02 +0.0 -0.05 00 15 1% % Hungary 310.0 309.8 -0.04 -0.38 forint 000 750 % % Polish 4.228 4.221 -0.15 4.16% zloty 0 8 % Romanian 4.542 4.554 +0.2 -0.17 leu 8 7 6% % Croatian 7.453 7.434 -0.25 1.37% kuna 0 2 % Serbian 123.8 123.8 +0.0 -0.36 dinar 000 900 7% % Note: daily calculate previ close 1800 change d from ous at CET STOCK S Lates Previ Daily Chang t ous e close chang in e 2017 Prague 982.6 982.7 -0.01 +6.6 5 1 % 2% Budapest 31923 32232 -0.96 -0.25 .74 .95 % % Warsaw 2210. 2214. -0.16 +13. 82 45 % 50% Bucharest 7975. 7942. +0.4 +12. 91 76 2% 57% Ljubljana 767.3 777.5 -1.31 +6.9 8 8 % 4% Zagreb 1952. 2015. -3.12 -2.14 23 12 % % Belgrade <.BELEX15 734.6 737.4 -0.38 +2.4 > 4 7 % 1% Sofia 634.5 633.3 +0.1 +8.2 0 4 8% 0% BONDS Yield Yield Sprea Daily d (bid) chang vs chang e Bund e in Czech sprea Republic d 2-year <CZ2YT=RR -0.57 -0.08 +016 -9bps > 7 6 bps 5-year <CZ5YT=RR 0.138 -0.00 +052 +1bp > 6 bps s 10-year <CZ10YT=R 0.97 -0.01 +064 -1bps R> 8 bps Poland 2-year <PL2YT=RR 2.042 0.008 +278 +1bp > bps s 5-year <PL5YT=RR 2.937 -0.02 +331 -1bps > 3 bps 10-year <PL10YT=R 3.525 -0.01 +319 +0bp R> bps s FORWARD RATE AGREEMENT 3x6 6x9 9x12 3M inter bank Czech Rep < 0.28 0.32 0.38 0 PRIBOR=> Hungary < 0.21 0.27 0.37 0.2 BUBOR=> Poland < 1.755 1.777 1.819 1.73 WIBOR=> Note: FRA are for quotes ask prices
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