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Czech Watch - 17 May 2002

17.5.2002 10:40

Export prices were 0.5% down from February’s level, export prices fell by 0.7%. Terms of trade deteriorated by 0.2% m/m. The fall was definetely caused by the exchange rate development. Nominal effective exchange rate (average exchange rate weighted by share of currencies on foreign trade) strengthened by 1.3% in March. Average exchange rate of the Czech koruna against euro registered a similar advance in March. Koruna strengthened against the US dolar by 1.9%. On year-on-year basis, import prices fell 7.9%, export prices were 5.9% down. Terms of trade still remain favorable: +2.2% y/y.

German RWE Gas paid EUR 4.1bn (CZK 125bn) to National Property Fund (NPF) yesterday for 97% share in Transgas and regional gas distribution companies. The payment will be put into a special foreign exchange account of NPF by Czech National Bank. According to the agreement between CNB and government, the central bank should convert the foreign exchange income into korunas by increasing its own foreign exchange reserves.

TNS Factum 2002 election survey showed a change in preferences: the CSSD with 33.4% of votes has the best chance for victory in the parliamentary election. Second ODS gets 30.2% of votes this week. Both major political parties registered a substantial growth of preferences in comparison with previous week. According to the survey, the Coalition gets 14.8% and KSCM 13.8% of votes.

Eurozone annual inflation fell from 2.5% in March to 2.4% in April 2002. CPI decreased by 0.5% in comparison with previous month. The figure does not look like a positive information because preliminary forecasts showed a fall of prices to 2.2%. The effect of the changeover to euro currencies most likely falls between the range of 0.0% to 0.16%, according to most updated analyses of Eurostat.

The steel war has expanded to Middle Europe. Hungary imposed quotas on steel imports with effect from June 3 to December 3, which will be based on an average steel import for the last three years increased by 10%. If an importer exceeds the quota, he would have to pay 20% to 25% of custom duties. The Czech Ministry of Industry said that a reciprocal action is a possibility.

Click here for the „Czech economic daily“ in .pdf format.

Radim Krejčí

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