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Czech Watch – 15 November 2001

15.11.2001 11:09

- Real sales of services increased +2.5 % year-on-year in September. In month-on-month terms, seasonally adjusted retail sales rose 0.6 %. Since the beginning of 2001, the sales grew +4.7 % year-on-year. Retail sales (incl. sale and repair of motor vehicles and sale of automotive fuel), grew 4.0 % year-on-year. As usual in the last months, retail enterprises with 100+ employees enjoyed the highest growth rate. Sales in hotels and restaurants were 4.7 % down, out of which accommodation establishments lost 10.3 %. The reason was rather cold weather coupled with slackened interest in travelling due to September terrorist attacks. Transport sales experienced their first drop in 2001 (-4.6 % year-on-year). Sales in communications grew 17.5 %, of which telecommunications accounted for 20.4 %. Sales in the area of computer and related activities grew 15.0 %, sales relating to other business activities were 1.8 % down.

- Ramiro Cibrian, the EU's ambassador to the Czech Republic, believes in positive results of negotiation lead between the Czech Republic and the EU on the restructuring of the Czech steel industry. In the latest assessment report on the Czech progress towards EU accession, out on Tuesday, the European Commission said that the anti-monopoly office UOHS should continue to pay attention to the steel-production related topics, and that the talks on the restructuring method should go on. Czech Industry and Trade Minister Miroslav Gregr is planning a trip to Brussels at the turn of November and December to discuss the issue.

- Members of the Czech Association of Leasing Companies (ALS), which control more than 90 % of the Czech leasing market, leased movables worth some CZK 77bn in 2001Q1-3, up 19 % year-on-year. Preliminary date indicate continuing boom also in 2001Q4. CSOB leasing, which occupies the leading position among leasing companies in the Czech Republic, concluded leasing contracts worth over CZK 11bn and contracts for the sale on installments worth CZK 0.5bn in the monitored period. Turnover of the company rose 35 % year-on-year. The Czech leasing business is the largest in the post-communist CEE. About 1/3 of investment in movables in the country was financed by means of leasing in 2000, which was double the European average.

- The cabinet approved a draft bill on the placement of public orders, setting rules for transparent, unequivocal and non-discriminatory steps to be taken by those who place them. The current method of the placement of public orders was criticized by the EC in its latest report on Czech progress towards EU accession. Therefore, one of the objectives of the amendment was full compatibility with the acquis communautaire. The law defines individual types of placement proceedings, elementary terms of the placement process, participants in the proceedings, and criteria for their assessment. Besides, the law adjusts the course of the public tender from a call for bids through their assessment to the signature of a contract.

- The Czech crown had opened at 33.22 CZK/EUR on Wednesday and stayed then the whole day within a range of 33.22-33.26 CZK/EUR. Neither new data on Czech service sales nor further EUR losses against USD moved the market. Against the dollar, the crown had opened at 37.74 CZK/USD and then copied USD/EUR exchange rate development. Supported by surprisingly strong retail sales data reported from the US, USD strengthened up to 37.86 CZK/USD in the afternoon, but corrected before the end of the session. CZK/EUR was trading at 33.26/29 late on Wednesday, down from 33.22/25 on Tuesday evening. CZK/USD closed at 37.68/70 on Wednesday, slightly up from late Tuesday’s 37.71/73.

- Bond prices dropped also on Wednesday. Strong retail sales data reported from the Czech Republic and from the US along with falling prices of German state bonds pushed prices of Czech issues down. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark lost 65bps on Wednesday to 112.50/80, yielding 5.64/61 %. The state 6.75/05 bond dipped 30bps compared to Tuesday’s close to 105.40/65, yielding 4.90/82 %.

Late on November 14 bond yield Late on November 13
State 6.75/05105.40/654.90/82105.70/95
State 6.95/16112.50/805.64/61113.15/45

(Martin Kupka)

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