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Czech Watch - 10 August 2000

10.8.2000 8:30

The IMF issued an upbeat report on the Czech economy in which it estimated that the Czech economy will grow by 2.5% this year and by 3-3.5% in 2001. The IMF was satisfied that the growth is broad based and that low inflation environment is reflected in low inflation expectations. The IMF also warned against limiting the CNB independence and urged the government to press ahead with further reforms, all usual stuff: pensions, health care, fiscal system, bank supervision and legal impediments to corporate restructuring.
As far as the reform is concerned, the Ministry of Transport released almost CZK 400 mil. for paying debts of the state railways. The money was meant for infrastructure maintenance, but the railways are so heavily indebted that they needed a cash injection and fast. Maintenance may wait.
The Czech koruna barely moved yesterday, as it lost 4 hallers to 35.32 CZK/EUR. It lost vis-a-vis the dollar as well and was traded at almost 39.30 CZK/USD, level unseen since late May. The moves were initiated by the euro/dollar market where the euro first languished below 0.90 USD/EUR (only to recover this morning to 0.905 USD/EUR).
Czech bonds rose on Wednesday, recording second bullish day in a row. The rise was started by one of the market maker's purchases, however during the day, more buyers appeared on the market. Falling swaps spoke for the rise; but it's still unclear what will be the results of Friday's government bond auction. Well, we forecast a bearish trend to come back soon, and as this did not happen on Wednesday, we postpone this forecast for later this week (or next week).
Current benchmark prices: MoF 6.75/05 100.30-60 (+10 bps), MoF 6.30/07 96.25-55 (+20 bps), MoF 6.40/10 95.10-40 (+10 bps).

(Ondrej Schneider and Dalimil Vyskovsky)

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