Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
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* Currencies mostly ease after jitters triggered by Turkish lira * Hungarian government bonds stable * Investors mull Turkish contagion channels (Adds deepening losses, dealer comment, dollar index) By Sandor Peto and Angel Krasimirov BUDAPEST/SOFIA, Aug 15 Central Europe's main currencies neared multi-week lows against the euro on Wednesday as investors were afraid that jitters of the Turkish lira could return and picked the safer dollar. The lira's plunge has knocked Central European assets and there is a risk that investors who suffer losses on lira assets may seek to curb further losses by selling Central European assets. The exposure of some euro zone banks to Turkey is also a contagion channel, analysts said. "The market has priced a fair amount of contagion already. But the endgame is not obvious yet, and another shoe could still drop," Citi said in a note. The lira regained some ground on Wednesday, but some investors were afraid of further losses, while public holidays in several Central European states including Poland limited turnover, increasing the potential for volatility. "It is easier to weaken currencies now," one Budapest-based dealer said. Record low interest rates in Poland and Hungary, and volatile government bond yields in the latter add to the vulnerability of their markets, analysts said. Hungarian yields, after swinging 10-15 basis points at the start of this week, took a breather on Wednesday, with the 10-year benchmark fixed at 3.46 percent. The zloty eased 0.5 percent and the forint 0.6 percent against the euro by 1253 GMT, while the Czech crown shed 0.2 percent. The region's main economies reported robust 4-5 percent annual economic growth rates on Tuesday, except for the Czech Republic which is facing a slowdown. These economies are fundamentally different from Turkey and other emerging economies which struggle with current account deficit problems, analysts said. If Turkey's problems ease in the near future, Central European markets will benefit, Erste analyst Zoltan Arokszallasi said in a note, adding that Turkey's 1-4 percent share of the region's exports was not worrying. In GDP-related terms, Turkish trade exposure in the region is biggest in Bulgaria, at 4 percent, followed by the Czech Republic and Romania at around 1 percent, the Citi note said, adding that Bulgaria's exports are heavy in energy, which can be diverted to other end-markets. Years of weakening in the lira, however, has already brought many Bulgarian companies into a difficult situation, said Tsvetoslav Tsachev, research analyst at ELANA in Sofia. "Bulgaria exports a lot to Turkey, especially raw materials, materials that are being processed, (and) they will be expensive for the Turkish economy," he said. A key risk to the region's assets is if the Turkish turmoil renews flows to the dollar, whose rally earlier this year led to selling in the region's emerging markets, analysts said. The dollar firmed 0.2 percent on Wednesday against a package of currencies. CEE SNAPSHOT AT MARKETS 1453 CET CURRENCI ES Latest Previous Daily Change bid close change in 2018 Czech <EURCZK= 25.7520 25.7100 -0.16% -0.82% crown > Hungary <EURHUF= 324.8200 323.0200 -0.55% -4.28% forint > Polish <EURPLN= 4.3265 4.3047 -0.50% -3.47% zloty > Romanian <EURRON= 4.6572 4.6560 -0.03% +0.48% leu > Croatian <EURHRK= 7.4260 7.4285 +0.03% +0.06% kuna > Serbian <EURRSD= 117.8900 117.9800 +0.08% +0.52% dinar > Note: calculated from 1800 CET daily change Latest Previous Daily Change close change in 2018 Prague 1068.29 1067.260 +0.10% -0.92% 0 Budapest 35832.33 36006.20 -0.48% -9.00% Belgrade <.BELEX1 734.61 741.10 -0.88% -3.32% 5> Sofia 630.45 632.50 -0.32% -6.94% BONDS Yield Yield Spread Daily (bid) change vs Bund change in Czech spread Republic 2-year <CZ2YT=R 1.3300 0.0920 +198bps +10bps R> 5-year <CZ5YT=R 1.6790 -0.0500 +199bps -4bps R> 10-year <CZ10YT= 2.1780 0.0050 +186bps +2bps RR> FORWARD RATE AGREEMEN T 3x6 6x9 9x12 3M interban k Czech Rep 1.71 1.84 1.94 1.46 <PRIBOR= > Hungary 0.55 0.77 0.98 0.18 Note: FRA are for ask prices quotes ************************************************* ************* (Reporting by Sandor Peto Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Gareth Jones)
STARO ZHELEZARE, Bulgaria With fewer than 500 inhabitants, Staro Zhelezare in southern Bulgaria is a world away from the mean streets of Manhattan, but its houses and barns have now been painted with some of the most famous images from New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
SOFIA Double Olympic champion Ekaterina Karsten may seek to prolong her illustrious career by another two years and make history in rowing by competing at the Games for the eighth time in Tokyo in 2020, the 46-year-old Belarusian said.
SOFIA Tens of thousands of supporters of Bulgaria's opposition Socialist Party (BSP) rallied on Saturday to protest poverty and corruption and demand an early election.
SOFIA Bulgaria's top court ruled on Friday that a European treaty to combat violence against women violates the constitution, likely eliminating any chance the treaty can be ratified.
SOFIA Bulgaria's parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to withdraw privatization law amendments following a veto by the president.
SOFIA Hundreds of farmers from around Bulgaria rallied in the capital Sofia on Wednesday against the government-ordered mass slaughter of livestock following the first outbreak in the European Union of the highly contagious Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).
SOFIA China remains open for trade with foreign partners and can only benefit from an economically strong Europe, its premier said on Saturday as he pressed for expanded ties with the continent's eastern wing while waging a tariff war with Washington.
Japan claimed their first victory of the year on Tuesday, coming from behind to beat Paraguay 4-2 and boost sagging morale a week before their opening World Cup Group H match against Colombia.
SOFIA Britain's Nestor El Maetrso has been appointed coach of Bulgaria's CSKA Sofia, with the club hoping he can end years of under-achievement and disappointment in European competitions.