CEE MARKETS-Currencies, stocks weaker; new lockdown measures eyed in Hungary

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BUCHAREST, March 4 (Reuters) - Most Central European currencies and stocks weakened on Thursday as a turnaround in U.S. bond yields dented risk appetite, while markets eyed further lockdown measures in Hungary to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. By 1040 GMT, the Czech crown was down 0.3% against the euro. The Hungarian forint dropped 0.2% at 364.7500 per euro, while the Polish zloty fell 0.1%. "High U.S. government bond yields are not conducive to the performance of emerging market currencies," PKO BP said in a research note. "The Polish zloty is suffering from the epidemic situation, where restrictions are still maintained due to the increase in cases related to the third wave of the pandemic." The Polish central bank raised both its inflation and gross domestic product growth forecasts for 2021 on Wednesday after leaving its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.1% as expected. "It was once again clear that (the central bank) sees its primary role at present as providing pandemic support in conjunction with the government – price stability is not a special focus," Commerzbank said in a note. "Meanwhile, the real interest rate is deeply negative and exposes the zloty exchange rate to volatility in global markets." However, a Reuters poll showed the zloty leading gains among central and eastern European currencies over the next 12 months, as vaccination programmes are expected to help economies return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. In Hungary, officials reported 6,278 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, its highest daily tally in three months, mainly because of a spread of the British variant of the virus. The government said on Thursday it would close all but food shops during March 8-22 and close primary schools and nurseries until early April. Analysts said the forint was unlikely to weaken past the strong resistance level of 365 in the short term. It "is an important barrier, and we do not expect the currency to significantly break it in this wave," brokerage Equilor wrote in a note. Stocks in the region were mostly weaker, with Hungary's bluechip down 1.8%, Warsaw's down 1.4% and Prague's down 0.2%. In Romania, where the official number of new coronavirus infections is rising at a slower pace and lockdown measures are not as strict, the leu was flat versus the euro. Its bluechip index, which often lags behind regional moves, was up 0.4% on the day. CEE SNAPSHO AT MARKETS T 1155 CET CURRENC IES Latest Previou Daily Change s bid close change in 2021 Czech Hungary 0 0 Polish Romanian Croatian Serbian 0 0 Note: calculated from 1800 daily CET change Latest Previou Daily Change s close change in 2021 Prague 1054.53 1056.05 -0.14% +2.67% 00 Budapest 42737.0 43595.2 -1.97% +1.49% 1 2 Warsaw 1915.85 1943.24 -1.41% -3.43% Buchares 10293.9 10250.3 +0.43% +4.98% t 2 4 Ljubljan <.SBITOP 980.43 977.32 +0.32% +8.83% a > Zagreb 1844.46 1844.10 +0.02% +6.05% Belgrade <.BELEX1 743.36 743.56 -0.03% -0.70% 5> Sofia 492.67 498.53 -1.18% +10.09 % Yield Yield Spread Daily (bid) change vs Bund change in Czech spread Republic 2-year s 5-year s s Poland 2-year s 5-year s s FORWARD 3x6 6x9 9x12 3M interba nk Czech 0.43 0.62 0.86 0.36 Rep Hungary 0.90 1.05 1.19 0.77 Poland 0.27 0.30 0.40 0.21 Note: are for ask FRA prices quotes ********************************************* ***************** (Reporting by Alan Charlish in Warsaw, Anita Komuves in Budapest and Luiza Ilie in Bucharest; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)