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SEE stocks mixed as rate hike bets ease


Stocks in South East Europe turned in a mixed performance this week as markets have been undermined by persistently high inflation and worsening economic prospects.  However, expectations that the US Federal Reserve may become less aggressive in tightening rates later in the year helped underpin sentiment. Athens led the gains in the region as investors appeared unfazed by geopolitical tensions and focused instead on corporate results and announcements.

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The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed the week at its highest point since early May. The flow of first-quarter corporate results from companies listed on the Greek stock market boosted the benchmark. The somewhat calmer European markets also played their part in the growth of local prices and turnover.


Serbian stock markets returns were negative this week. Amid rising uncertainty, short-term inflation expectations of the Serbian financial and corporate sectors remained stable. “According to the Ipsos April survey, the financial sector expects inflation to be at 5.0 pct in April 2023”, the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) said.

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed on Friday a new five-year Country Partnership Framework for Serbia for the period 2022-2026 that focuses on greener, more resilient growth. Meanwhile, the average net monthly wage in the Balkan country was 74,664 dinars in March, while the average gross wage was 102,781 dinars, the national statistical office RZS data showed. (1 euro = 117.5 dinars).


Romanians stocks were higher with the blue-chip BET index returning 2.87%. In currencies, financial analysts expect the Romanian leu to depreciate to an average of 5.0584 units to the euro in the next 12 months. Inflation is seen averaging 8.43% during the same period, according to a monthly poll by CFA Romania. In other news, The European Reconstruction and Development Bank (EBRD) is expanding its presence in Romania by opening a new regional office in Cluj-Napoca, the country’s second largest city and the IMF team will start its visit to Romania for annual economic review on May 30.


Slovenia’s SBITOP index dropped 1.47% this week.  Fitch Ratings affirmed Slovenia’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘A’ with a Stable Outlook. The credit rating agency  forecast GDP growth to slow to 3.9% in 2022 and 3.1% in 2023 following a solid 8.1% expansion in 2021 that was driven by a recovery across all sectors of the economy.


In Nicosia, the general index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange jumped 2.80%. Economic sentiment in the island improved slightly this month as the Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI-CypERC) accelerated by 1.1 points compared with April, according to the results of the Business and Consumer Survey of the Economics Research Center of the University of Cyprus. The government will extend a lower value added tax (VAT) on electricity bills and a fuel price cap and also boost pensions to cushion the impact of runaway prices that have pushed inflation to its highest rate in more than 40 years.


Stocks in Montenegro as measured by the MBI 10 index returned -0.19%. On the macro front, the country’s jobless rate fell to 21.8% in April.


Bosnian stock markets generated negative returns. The SASX10 index was off -1.38%. Consumer prices in the country rose 13.2% year-on-year in April, following a 10.2% rise in the previous month. It was the highest inflation rate on record, according to the Agency for Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meanwhile, registered jobless numbers fell 8.5% year-on-year in March, official data showed.


Bulgarian equities were lower. Standard & Poor’s (S&P Global Ratings) has confirmed Bulgaria’s foreign and local currency rating ‘BBB / A-2’. The outlook for the rating remains stable, the finance ministry said. The international rating agency expects that the military conflict in Ukraine will shock the Bulgarian economy and real GDP growth this year will slow to 1.6% from 4.3% in the November forecast, and the budget deficit will double to 5%. S&P also notes that Bulgaria’s strong external and fiscal balances will help mitigate the shock while a steady influx of EU transfers will support growth in the medium term.


Croatian stock market returns were positive this week. Croatia’s gross domestic product advanced by an estimated 6.7% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, following a 9.7% expansion in the previous period and 0.6% annual contraction in the first quarter of last year, the Institute of Economics Zagreb (EIZ) said on Thursday. On Friday, the Croatian Bureau of Statistics published its first estimate for the GDP in Q1 2022. According to the estimate, the GDP grew by 7% year-on-year in real terms.

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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.

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