COVID 19 infections hit 12 year low in Central Europe

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COVID 19 infections hit 12 year low in Central Europe

PRAGUE, Nov 19, Reuters -- The Polish zloty fell to a more than 12 year low on Friday as central European currencies weakened on investor concerns over rising COVID 19 cases and pressure from a stronger U.S. dollar. The zloty was down 0.4% at 4.687 to the euro at 1036 GMT, its lowest since March 2009. Hungary's forint and the Czech crown fell by 0.6%. Central Europe has seen a huge jump in COVID 19 infections as it seeks to boost vaccination numbers. The Czech and Slovak governments have announced on Thursday tighter COVID 19 curbs for the unvaccinated, allowing access to restaurants and other services to only those who have been inoculated or recovered from the illness in the last six months. The moves followed a jump to record daily counts of new infections in recent days while other countries have seen new infections soar to levels that were previously seen in the previous major wave of the pandemic earlier this year. On Friday, Hungary reported 11,289 new COVID 19 infections, its highest daily tally since the start of the epidemic. There is a rise in risk aversion globally due to the fact that more European countries are introducing lock-downs, according to Mateusz Sutowicz, a financial market analyst at Bank Millennium. On Friday, Austria announced it would become the first country in western Europe to impose a full coronaviruses lockdown this autumn to deal with a new wave of infections. It will require its whole population to be vaccinated by February. The dollar was set for a fourth week of gains amid bets that the U.S. interest rates will rise faster than elsewhere, hitting the region's main reference currency, the euro, adding to the gloom in the region. That is cutting risk appetite and dampening Central Europe's gains in recent weeks, even with central banks in the region tightening policy already. A Prague trader said that it was a mix of rising COVID numbers and stronger USD. In Hungary, the forint fell to 366.60 to the euro, giving up all of its gains since the central bank hiked its rates on Tuesday. The crown fell to 25.415. Hungarian oil company MOL was down 2.22% by 1049 GMT after Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio that Hungary will review fuel prices in February and possibly extend a cap on fuel prices for three months.