Ukrainian stocks demonstrated notable growth last week after the National Bank estimated that the country’s economic growth reached 3.3% in full-year 2018, which was more rapid than in any of the past seven years. However, real GDP growth will slow to 2.5% this year, according to the NBU’s new forecast.
London-listed Ukrainian companies were the best performers in the country’s equity universe. Ferrexpo (FXPO) rocketed higher by 30% to GBp 262 per share amid rising iron ore demand, and sporadically-traded MHP (MHPC) moved up 4.8% to USD 10.85. Kyiv-listed equities had a less impressive increase, with UkrNafta (UNAF) adding 1.5% to UAH 135 and Raiffeisen Bank Aval (BAVL) rising 1.4% to 34.90 kopecks. Both CentrEnergo (CEEN) and DonbasEnergo (DOEN) remained little changed at UAH 14.40 and UAH 33.00 per share respectively. The Ukrainian Exchange, which has been closed to trading since last June due to regulatory issues, has stopped calculating the UX index, leaving the local market without a benchmark for now.
In Warsaw trading, top liquid name Kernel (KER) slipped 2.0% to PLN 50 on the nose, and Agroton (AGT) dropped by 9.6% to PLN 3.50.
On the currency front, the hryvnia appreciated by 0.9% against the dollar to end the week at 27.52 UAH/USD, despite the National Bank’s announcement of a plan to buy USD 15mn per day to boost international reserves in the first and second quarters of this year. The NBU said that in 2018, the total trading volume on the interbank foreign exchange market grew by 38% YoY to USD 117bn, while the NBU’s own purchases and sales of currency totaled USD 5.0bn, thus implying that the influence of the NBU on the formation of the exchange rate is minimal. In reference to the USD 15mn per day plan, the NBU admitted that the situation on the market might influence its ability to buy foreign currencies, and that actual purchases might be less. The NBU said that when it intervenes, it will continue to try to minimize its own impact on the pricing process in the market. Priority will be given to those forms of intervention in which the NBU does not offer, but accepts the price offered by other players of the foreign exchange market. These forms of intervention, where the National Bank acts as a “price-taker,” are a currency auction and intervention at the best exchange rate.
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