After sharp fall, Hungarian forint faces slow recovery over next year

Hungarian forints and Euro notes are seen in this photo illustration taken in Budapest
Hungarian forints and Euro notes are seen in this photo illustration taken in Budapest February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

PRAGUE, June 2 (Reuters) - Hungary's forint, battered to near-record lows at the end of May, has scope to recover much of its losses and gain more than 7% in the next year, a Reuters poll of central European currencies showed on Thursday.

The forint has fallen sharply, losing more than 7% since the end of March alone as worries over European Union disputes holding up recovery funds, slowing monetary policy tightening and now windfall taxes aimed at banks and other companies rattle investors.

In the poll, analysts forecast the forint would stay under pressure in the coming months, especially as the global mood sours, before some space for gains opens up as worries ease.

"As the dust settles on fiscal and monetary actions, we might see some moderate strengthening in the forint, but as long as the global risk mood is rather cloudy, it is really hard to envision a move towards pre-war levels," Peter Virovacz at ING said.

"However, over 12 months, we might see a significant improvement in risk sentiment accompanied with a positive real interest rate environment, which will create a significant tailwind for HUF to become stronger."

The poll's median forecast saw the forint at 370 to the euro, up 7.4% from Tuesday's closing levels, when the currency was just off an all-time low of 400.

That gain would largely erase its slide since March but still keep the forint weaker than levels of around 350 seen before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February which has shaken markets.

Elsewhere in the poll, the Polish zloty could also gain over the next 12 months, with the median forecast putting it at 4.50 to the euro, up 1.9%.

The Czech crown was expected to weaken this year toward the 25 per euro level before rebounding and landing little changed in one year's time at 24.715.

The crown came under selling pressure last month after the announcement of a changeover at the central bank that could signal the end of the fast policy-tightening seen in recent months.

Policymakers around the region have been lifting interest rates since 2021 to battle inflation, which has surged.

Romania's leu was the only currency in the poll seen easing over the next year, as in previous polls. The leu may lose around 1% to 4.99 to the euro, according to forecasts.

(For other stories from the June Reuters foreign exchange polls:)

Reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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