Erste Leads Czech Index Up on U.S. Budget: Prague Mover

Erste Group Bank AG (RBAG) increased to its highest in more than 15 months, leading Czech shares to a 10- month high, as Hungary signaled it may ease taxes on lenders and amid signs of progress in the U.S. budget talks.

Austria’s Erste climbed 3 percent to 602.5 koruna by 12:24 p.m. in Prague, the strongest price since September 2011 and for the seventh straight day of gains. The PX (PX) equity index, where Erste has a 28 percent weighting, jumped 1.3 percent.

Banks are among the biggest gainers in Europe today amid optimism that U.S. lawmakers will reach an agreement on the budget to avert more than $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases. Hungary, one of Erste’s markets, may allow lenders to lower their bank tax payment in exchange for stepping up lending, Gyula Pleschinger, state secretary at the Economy Ministry, told Portfolio news website today.

“Erste gains are linked with the improved chances for an agreement on how to avoid the U.S. fiscal cliff and with signals that the Hungarian government’s position on banks may be changing,” Marek Hatlapatka, an analyst a Cyrrus brokerage in Brno, Czech Republic, said in e-mailed comments. “Erste shares are traditionally sensitive to this type of news.”

In Vienna, its home exchange, Erste shares also jumped 3 percent to 23.925 euros. The stock has gained 76 percent since the end of 2011 and headed for its biggest yearly rally on record.

To contact the reporter on this story: Krystof Chamonikolas in Prague at kchamonikola@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wojciech Moskwa at wmoskwa@bloomberg.net

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