Stocks, FX fall on Russia-Ukraine worries

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BUDAPEST, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Central European currencies and stocks fell on Monday after a warning from the United States that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time pushed investors to safe-haven assets such as the dollar.

Western countries have accused Russia of preparing to invade Ukraine, while Moscow denies it has such plans.

CEE equities fell, tracking European peers. Warsaw (.WIG20) led losses, tumbling 3.24% to a more than two-month low. Budapest (.BUX) fell 2.6% to its lowest since the start of the year. Prague's equities (.PX) were 1.97% lower and Bucharest (.BETI) shed 2.51%.

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Currencies also plunged, with the Polish zloty and the Hungarian forint each losing nearly 1% versus the euro.

The forint was trading at 356.75 while the zloty was trading at 4.5710 per euro, near a two-week low. The Czech crown was 0.82% lower and trading at 24.588 versus the common currency, the weakest since Jan. 24.

"Investors panicked when they heard views that Russia could invade Ukraine," an FX trader in Budapest said. "The market will not calm down any time soon, everyone is on edge. CEE currencies will not be able to firm in this mood."

On the macro front, fresh CPI data showed that CEE economies are facing a continued surge in inflation.

Central banks reacted to soaring prices by sharply lifting interest rates since last year, which lifted currencies in the region.

Czech headline inflation jumped to 9.9% in January, the highest since mid-1998, while consumer price growth in Romania was the fastest in over a decade, data showed on Monday.

The data comes after prices in Hungary grew at the fastest pace in 15 years, a statistics office release on Friday showed. Poland is due to release its data on Tuesday.

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Reporting by Anita Komuves in Budapest, additional reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague and Alan Charlish in Warsaw; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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