BUCHAREST- Central European currencies and stocks weakened on Friday, mirroring wider European risk aversion on a hawkish U.S. Federal Reserve and geopolitical tensions over Ukraine.
By 1000 GMT, the Czech crown and Hungarian forint were each 0.4% weaker against the euro, while the Polish zloty was down 0.3%.
Warsaw's bluechip index led losses in the region, down 1.8% on the day. Hungarian shares fell 1.0%, while Prague's edged 0.3% lower.
Analysts expect CEE currencies to firm this year, helped by further interest rate hikes as central banks battle strong inflationary pressures.
The forint, crown and zloty are stronger versus the euro overall this year, but off highs hit in previous weeks as focus turns towards a potential U.S. interest rate hike in March.
In Hungary, policymakers lifted the base rate above expectations by 50 basis points earlier this week and hiked the one-week deposit rate, used to tackle market volatility.
"We think that risks remain skewed to the upside on the back of a more hawkish Fed, EU funding risks, and potentially higher energy prices in Europe," Morgan Stanley said in a note.
"We continue to expect the effective monetary policy rate to reach the area of 5.20% by end of March."
In the Czech Republic, markets are tuned to the central bank next week, with expectations of interest rates being raised by at least 50 basis points, which would bring the main rate above 4% and to a 20-year high.
"The central bank could still surprise (at the meeting), but the main question will be whether rates get to below 5% in this cycle or if the CNB will want to move higher," CSOB said.
In Poland, ING Bank said in a research note that expectations of future interest rate hikes limited the room for the zloty to weaken.
"In the near future the situation in the East should determine the behaviour of the zloty," the note said. "When tensions in the East ease, we expect the zloty to return to strengthening. The policy of the (central bank) is currently a big support for the zloty."
Elsewhere in the region, the Romanian leu was flat against the euro and relatively illiquid bluechip index .BETI was up 1.2%, bucking wider trends.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie in Bucharest, Jason Hovet in Prague, Anita Komuves in Budapest and Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.) ((email@example.com; +4021 527 0312; https://www.reuters.com/journalists/luiza-ilie))