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Data-wise, last weeks main event in Croatia was the release of December retail trade, which brought further disappointment. The headline figure underperformed both our and market expectations (EBCe: -5.0% y/y, market consensus: - 5.1% y/y), declining 6.1% y/y, showing some additional deterioration compared to the Oct-Nov figures (-5.7% y/y) (for more details, see Wednesdays daily). This suggests that private consumption will remain the primary drag on the 4Q GDP performance (expected at -2% y/y). 2013 should paint a similar picture, taking into account the ongoing weak fundamental factors, with weakness expected to be pronounced in 1Q, given the high 2012 base, amid spending frontloading ahead of the VAT hike last year. Next week offers no data flow.
So far, Moodys recent downgrade has had a limited impact on the market. The exchange rate, after initially advancing slightly, maintained a virtually flat performance, remaining in the 7.58 neighborhood throughout the week. We see the HRK moving in a tight band, where the announced MoF USD 1.5bn bond placement provides an anchor. Downside risks remain related to the seasonal pattern and ongoing deleveraging. The bond market initially suffered more on the Moodys action, with Eurobond yields moving up approx. 50bp, but recovered later in the week, as yields are now up to 10bp higher, providing a tailwind for the MoF financing plans and expected bond issuance by the end of 1Q.
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