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Romania’s Need to Repay Euros Will Limit Leu’s Gain, ING Says

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Romania’s bailout repayments this year will probably prompt the central bank to beef up its foreign-exchange reserves, limiting the leu’s gains, according to ING Bank Romania SA. The currency retreated from a year high.

The central bank is due to repay about 3.8 billion euros ($5 billion) to the International Monetary Fund.

The leu depreciated 0.4 percent to 4.3398 per euro by 5 p.m. in Bucharest, after gaining 2.5 percent this month, the best performance among emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg. It climbed to the highest level in a year after JPMorgan Chase & Co. said on Jan. 15 the country’s domestic bonds are eligible for its emerging-market government bond index.

The central bank is “probably trying to reduce market volatility while finding the opportunity of replenishing its reserves at the current levels,” Mihai Tantaru, a Bucharest-based economist at ING Bank Romania SA, wrote in a note today.

Romania, which secured a 20 billion-euro bailout from the IMF and the European Union in 2009, is scheduled to repay a total of about 5 billion euros this year to the Washington-based lender.

The central bank’s foreign-exchange reserves stood at 31.2 billion euros at the end of December, little changed from 31.17 billion a month earlier.

“In light of the above and also considering the commercial net demand for hard currency, we see the leu swinging inside the 4.32-4.34 per euro range for today,” Tantaru said.

Yields on Romania’s June 2019 euro-denominated bonds rose six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 3.75 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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