Trading in the markets of South East Europe took place against the background of the continuation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, for the third week, escalating sanctions against Russia, as well as US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England monetary policy meetings. The majority of indices post solid gains with Slovenia leading the gains in the region as investor sentiment was buoyed during the week by continued negotiations to end the conflict.
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Stocks as measured by the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index returned 4.22%. The expected rebalancing of the FTSE Russell index, with the shift of five Greek stocks, sent turnover soaring in the closing auctions on Friday, according to Kathimerini. Greece unexpectedly got to the brink of investment grade on Friday as DBRS Morningstar upgraded the country’s credit rating to ‘BB high’, from ‘BB’, while reducing its outlook from Positive to Stable.
Serbian markets weakened during the week with the BELEX15 index losing 2.99%. Serbia’s central bank NBS dismissed media reports about alleged shortage of foreign cash saying the stability of the country’s financial system is not under any threat. The NBS shut down 90 foreign exchange bureaus over rate incompliance. The central bank also kept the CCyB rate unchanged at 0%. Meanwhile, in a monthly survey of inflation expectations, the NBS said that Serbia’s financial and corporate sectors’ year-ahead inflation expectations were up in February.
Equities moved higher for the week. The blue-chip BET index spiked by 5.05%. On the macro front, Banca Transilvania, Romania’s largest lender by assets, has revised the country’s economic growth forecast to 3.5% in 2022, from a previous projection of 5.1%. Meanwhile, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate reached 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2021, National Institute of Statistics data showed.
In fixed income markets, Romania’s finance ministry will be launching four new bond issues for the general population, under the Fidelis program, which can be subscribed between March 17, 2022 and April 1, 2022.
Stocks in Slovenia as represented by the SBITOP Index, led the gains in the region with the benchmark soaring by 8.56%. As part of a bi-annual review of the composition of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange indices, hand tools manufacturer Unior and pharmaceutical products wholesaler Salus will join the SBITOP and SBITOP TR. The weight of Unior in the SBITOP will be 0.42%, while the weight of Salus was set at 4.23%.
On a weekly basis the general index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange improved 3.98%. A leading indicator that serves as an early warning signal for changes in Cyprus economic activity, the Cyprus Composite Leading Economic Index (CCLEI) compiled by the Economics Research Centre of the University of Cyprus recorded a year-over-year increase of 15.0% in February, reaching a level of 111.8, prior to the full scale of the current crisis with the situation in Ukraine and sanctions “partially reflected” in the data.
Earlier in the week, rating agency DBRS said in a commentary
that Cyprus’ significant links with Russia have increased the downside risks to otherwise strong medium term economic prospects for the island.
Equities in Podgorica were lower on Friday. The MNSE10 lost 0,91%. On the macro front, Montenegro’s unemployment rate fell to 23.9% in February, while the annual inflation rate accelerated for the fifth straight month to 6.7% from 5.7% in January. It was the highest reading since December of 2008. The country’s real GDP rose 8.2% y/y in the last quarter of 2021.
In Sarajevo, the stock market’s returns were negative for the week. The SASX10 index fell 0.39%. In currencies, the net foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina stood at 16.4 billion marka (8.4 billion euro) at the end of January, up 19.5% year-on-year, central bank data showed. In economic releases, Bosnia’s unemployment rate dropped to 31% in 2021.
Sofia’s SOFIX index posted weekly gains of 3.91%. On the macro front, the annual inflation rate in the country accelerated for the 12th straight month to 10% in February, from 9.1% in the prior month. It was the highest reading since October of 2008. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in January from 7% in the corresponding month of the previous year, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
SKOPJE, N. MACEDONIA
No data available. To be added in due course.
For the week, Zagreb’s CROBEX index jumped 3.80%. Croatia’s unemployment rate declined to 7.8% in February from 9.7% in the corresponding month of the previous year, amid the ongoing labor market recovery. The average net pay in legal entities in January 2022 stood at HRK 7,378 (975 euro) while in real terms the pay remained the same, data from the national statistical office (DZS) showed.
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Kyriaki Balkoudi is a markets editor for World Markets Daily. She has a bachelor’s degree in Balkans Studies from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and a master’s degree in International Politics from City University London, UK.