The forint fell the most in more than a week on speculation that Hungary’s planned tax increases will hurt economic growth and as investors awaited a signal from the U.S. Federal Reserve about when it will taper stimulus.
Hungary’s currency weakened 1.1 percent to 293.92 per euro by 3:45 p.m. in Budapest, the biggest decline since June 10. The forint pared its advance in the second quarter to 3.5 percent, still the best performance among more than 20 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Yields on the government’s 10-year bonds rose 26 basis points, or 0.26 percentage point, to 5.85 percent. Stocks fell for a second day.
The government plans to raise charges on telephone calls, mining and financial transactions, Economy Minister Mihaly Varga said yesterday. The measures contributed to the forint’s weakness by threatening to weaken economic growth, traders at Commerzbank AG and Equilor Befektetesi Zrt said. The Federal Open Market Committee starts a two-day policy meeting today, a month after Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said stimulus efforts could be scaled back if the employment outlook shows sustained improvement.
“The package announced by Varga had a relatively smaller impact on the currency, stocks were hit more,” Pal Saaghy, a Budapest-based trader at Equilor, said by phone today. “Currency volatility is mainly caused by the uncertainty over the fate of the Fed’s quantitative easing.”
The benchmark BUX stock index slid 0.6 percent, extending its two-day loss to 1.9 percent.
Besides the higher tax on transactions, banks will also be required to make a payment equivalent to 7 percent of loans that the central government transferred to its books from debt-laden municipalities in December, according to a draft bill posted on Parliament’s website yesterday.
The charge won’t constitute “selective default” because the debt assumption and the payment obligation will be separate both in timing and in legal terms, the Economy Ministry said by e-mail today.
The tax hikes and the charge on the municipal debt are “a disappointment” as they add to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s track record for “unorthodox” policies, Peter Attard Montalto, a London-based strategist at Nomural International Plc, wrote in an e-mailed report today.
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