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Czech Watch - 31 July 2000

31.7.2000 9:00

Government has departed for a long summer holiday and left analysts (and unfortunate state employees who had to stay) to wonder what the 2001 central government budget may look like. In a now-typical twist, all issues are to be decided in September when it is too late to do anything meaningful. Thus, ministries frantically lobby the powerful ministry of finance and beg for a boost in their respective budgets. They may still be in for a big surprise, as the "opposition" ODS mulls an idea to incorporate the loss of Konsolidacni banka (state owned hospital bank that generates roughly USD 1 bil. in losses annually) into the budget. That would render the government to cut the same amount of spending - an impossible task especially as the whole administration loathes cutting public expenditures.
The Czech koruna recovered its Thursday losses and firmed to 35.50 CZK/EUR. As the dollar boomed along the euro again, the koruna lost to 38.35 CZK/USD. A CNB'S vice governor warned that the CNB may act if the koruna strengthens further, so market wonders where is the central bank's triggering level.
As we expected, Friday was very bullish day for Czech bonds, however, the prices shifted up early in the morning, without much trading, actually. The move was as high as 30-50 bps, for certain issues, and after minor trading and stop-losses on some short positions in the early morning, the day was not that bullish anymore. We could then have seen some sell interests again. Just prior to the market close, as one of the big market makers struggled to keep the prices on the peak, the market accepted this without any action and stayed quiet to the close.
However, we do not expect bullish trend to come or even to continue on Monday, as the prices have strengthened bit too much in previous two days. Furthermore, with the beginning of August few not-so-bullish numbers are approaching, as well as government bond auction, scheduled to August, 11.
Current benchmark prices: MoF 6.75/05 100.45-75 (+50 bps), MoF 6.30/07 96.70-00 (+30 bps), MoF 6.40/10 96.05-35 (+20 bps).

(Ondrej Schneider and Dalimil Vyskovsky)

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