BRIEF-Third Point confirms Nestle stake
* Activist investor third point llc says nestle should be able to improve margins by as much as 400 basis points
* Local, regional economic data fuel optimism in markets * Budapest stock index sets record above 35,000-point mark * Czech GDP breakdown underpins continuing regional growth * Czech crown hovers near strongest levels since late 2013 By Sandor Peto BUDAPEST, June 2 Budapest stocks hit a record high and the Czech crown was testing a 3 1/2-year peak on Friday after economic data from the United States and Central Europe lifted investor confidence. Budapest's main stock index crossed the 35,000-point mark, surging to a record high before retreating below that line by 0823 GMT, though still up 0.5 percent. Thursday's May Czech and Polish manufacturing indices pointed to slower than expected economic expansion. But this week's regional data - including the first-quarter Czech economic output breakdown on Friday - confirmed continuing strong growth. Hungary's PMI hit a all-time high in May. That trend underpins regional currencies and stocks. Upbeat U.S. manufacturing data sent Poland's zloty into a brief retreat against both the dollar and euro late on Thursday. Against the euro, the zloty pierced the 4.2 psychological line but returned to 4.188 by Friday, up 0.2 percent as global markets were awaiting U.S. payroll figures due at 1230 GMT in an upbeat mood. The Czech crown hit a multi-year high already in overnight trade at 26.318 and was flirting with that level again on Friday. A Prague-based dealer said the crown market was now quiet, but still had some space for gains. "There is still some momentum but pretty slow. But I think we are getting to levels where I would expect some profit taking," the dealer said, adding that the Czech central bank (CNB) was probably happy with the crown's trajectory so far. Two months ago the CNB removed a cap which had kept the crown weaker than 27 against the euro since 2013. Investors who had bought tens of billions of euros worth of crowns eagerly await stronger levels to take profits. A Reuters poll of analysts conducted this week projected a rise in the crown to 25.75 in the next 12 months, and a range between 26.2 and 27 until the end of September. "We still see the first hike of CNB rates in 2018 as the most likely outcome, due to the loose policy of the ECB and the expected slowdown in Czech inflation at the 2017/18 turn," Erste analyst Jiri Polansky said after Friday's GDP breakdown data. In stock markets, Alior Bank bucked a rise of Polish shares, and shed as much as 5.5 percent, after its CEO and co-founder Wojciech Sobieraj said he would not apply for another term. Hungary's Konzum, a holding company part-owned by businessman Lorinc Meszaros, an ally and friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, surged 17 percent after saying on Thursday that it had acquired a 45 percent indirect stake in MKB Bank. Another firm part-owned by Meszaros, Opimus, which in April acquired a stake in FHB Bank, gained 7.6 percent. Bulgaria's main stock index rose 0.6 percent. Later on Friday, Standard & Poor's may upgrade the outlook from stable to positive on its BB+ rating for Bulgaria, Raiffeisen analyst Gintaras Shlizhyus said in a note. CEE MARKETS SNAPSH AT 1023 CET OT CURRENCIES Latest Previo Daily Change us bid close change in 2017 Czech crown 26.323 26.333 +0.04 2.60% 0 0 % Hungary 308.20 307.87 -0.11% 0.20% forint 00 00 Polish zloty 4.1880 4.1968 +0.21 5.16% % Romanian leu 4.5660 4.5691 +0.07 -0.68% % Croatian kuna 7.4110 7.4150 +0.05 1.94% % Serbian dinar 122.17 122.45 +0.23 0.97% 00 00 % Note: daily calculated previo close 1800 change from us at CET STOCKS Latest Previo Daily Change us close change in 2017 Prague 1010.6 1006.0 +0.46 +9.66 7 8 % % Budapest 34947. 34762. +0.53 +9.20 15 46 % % Warsaw 2296.3 2278.2 +0.79 +17.8 5 6 % 9% Bucharest 8769.4 8688.5 +0.93 +23.7 1 0 % 7% Ljubljana 791.04 792.01 -0.12% +10.2 4% Zagreb 1849.2 1848.4 +0.04 -7.30% 3 2 % Belgrade 718.36 719.93 -0.22% +0.14 % Sofia 668.14 664.08 +0.61 +13.9 % 3% BONDS Yield Yield Spread Daily (bid) change vs change Bund in Czech spread Republic 2-year -0.118 0.066 +059b +7bps ps 5-year -0.156 0.039 +028b +6bps ps 10-year 0.682 0.006 +039b +2bps ps Poland 2-year 1.913 0.003 +263b +1bps ps 5-year 2.653 -0.001 +309b +2bps ps 10-year 3.23 -0.012 +294b +0bps ps FORWARD RATE AGREEMENT 3x6 6x9 9x12 3M interb ank Czech Rep <PR 0.34 0.41 0.48 0 IBOR=> Hungary <BU 0.19 0.23 0.29 0.15 BOR=> Poland <WI 1.76 1.79 1.8 1.73 BOR=> Note: FRA are for ask quotes prices ********************************************************** **** (Additional reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague, Anna Koper and Marcin Goclowski in Warsaw; editing by Mark Heinrich)
June 25 Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman's fund L1 Retail has agreed to buy health food chain Holland & Barrett for about 1.8 billion pounds ($2.3 billion), according to a source familiar with the matter.