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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Crown surges on news of economic package, presidential election

The Slovak crown surged for a third straight day on June 1, lifted by the victory of government candidate Rudolf Schuster in the second round of presidential elections on May 29 and May 31's package of stiff fiscal measures.

The currency has now fully retraced its nosedive of the previous two weeks after the first round of elections failed to produce an outright winner, leaving markets nervous that authoritarian ex-premier Vladimír Mečiar was still in the race.

"This is more of a 'Buy on the fact' - there's certainly relief that Mečiar is not going to be around," said Juliet Sampson, currency strategist at Bank of America in London.

Analysts said the government's long-awaited fiscal measures, including a hike in value-added tax and the imposition of an import surcharge, should help ease budget and current account pressures. But further upside for the crown was limited by fears that Slovakia's heavy domestic debt burden could spiral.

"There's still a huge amount of domestic debt that has to be funded," Sampson said. "The crunch is still on, so there's a limit to this relief trade on the crown."

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Jaromír Čižnár