The building of the NBH in Budapest – Photo: wikimedia

NBH keeps base rate on hold

National Bank raises 2021 GDP forecast to 4-6 percent

The National Bank of Hungary expects Hungary's GDP to grow by 4-6 percent this year, forecasts from its latest quarterly Inflation Report released on Tuesday show.

The central bank had forecast a growth rate of between 3.5 and 6.0 percent in its previous report released in December.

The finance ministry expects GDP to to expand by 4-5 percent this year.

The NBH puts the average annual inflation rate for this year at 3.8-3.9 percent, above the 3.5-3.6 percent range forecast in December.

The central bank sees the economy expanding by 5.0-6.0 percent next year and by 3.5 percent in 2023.

The bank’s forecasts for inflation show CPI at 2.9-3.0 percent in 2022. It left the 2023 inflation forecast unchanged at 3.0 percent.

The NBH noted that the forecast is in a range because of the uncertain economic prospects resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

NBH keeps base rate on hold

The Monetary Council of the National Bank of Hungary (NBH) decided to leave the central bank base rate unchanged at 0.60 percent at a monthly policy meeting on Tuesday.

The Council also decided on Tuesday to leave the O/N deposit rate at -0.05 percent and the O/N and one-week collateralised loan rates at 1.85 percent.

In a statement released after the meeting, the Council said inflation is “likely to be highly volatile” in the coming months, spiking due to base effects, rising fuel prices, further increases in excise duties and demand-supply frictions as the economy restarts.

The Council said the NBH remains “committed to maintaining price stability even during the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic”, adding that it is the central bank’s “clear intention to prevent the current uncertain environment from causing a sustained rise in inflation”.

It said the “greatest risk” in terms of the outlook for inflation is posed by “the increase in risk aversion vis-a-vis emerging markets and potential second-round effects following the restart of the economy”.

At a press conference after the meeting, NBH governor Gyorgy Matolcsy said there would be “temporary upsurges” in inflation in 2021, but added that these would be the consequence of one-off and external factors.

Hungarians should not expect “runaway” inflation, he said. By the first quarter of 2022, the NBH expects inflation to be “close to the 3.0 percent target”, he added.

K and H Bank senior analyst David Nemeth said the decision came as no surprise and monetary policy in the upcoming period will be determined by inflation reports and the NBH’s comments. One-week deposits have been unchanged for months at 0.75 percent, similarly to the base rate, he added.

Equilor Investment senior analyst Zoltan Varga said the NBH had significantly increased its inflation projection, from 3.5-3.6 percent forecast in December, to 3.8-3.9 percent. He added that the decision makers had stressed that they were ready to apply necessary measures if inflation risks increase.

Takarekbank senior analyst Gergely Suppan said it cannot be excluded that the NBH will be forced to increase the base rate in the second half of the year. Further restrictions resulting from the epidemic continue to worsen short-term outlooks and the NBH may support economic recovery by means of unconventional measures, he added.

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