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Czech Watch – 14 November 2001

14.11.2001 8:42

-Industrial producers´ prices rose 0.7 % month-on-month in October. The price level of “electricity production and supply” has grown 11.8 % due to seasonal factors. Prices decreased in “manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products” (by 3.6 %) and in “manufacture of chemicals, chemical products and man-made fibres” (by 1.2 %). In other branches of “manufacturing”, month-on-month price changes mostly fluctuated between -0.4 % and +0.3%. Prices of “mining and quarrying” increased 0.3 %. There was a mild growth of agriculture producer prices (+0.2 %), construction work prices grew 0.3 % and prices of construction material inputs declined 0.3 %. Prices of market services in the business sphere grew 0.4 %. In year-on-year terms, the growth rate of industrial producers´ prices slowed down from 1.8 % in September to 1.3% in October, which was the lowest year-on-year growth since October 1999. Prices in “manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products” dropped 20.8 % (following the decline in world prices of crude oil). On the other hand, prices markedly grew in “manufacture of food products, beverages and tobacco” (+4.3 %), “manufacture of transport equipment” (+5.6 %) and “electricity, gas and water supply” (+4.8 %). Agricultural producers´ prices were up 4.7 %, construction work prices increased 3.6%, prices of construction material inputs added 2.3 % and prices of market services in the business sphere grew 1.6 %.

- Import prices slightly declined month-on-month in September (by 0.2 %). The biggest decreases happened in the in mineral fuels and crude materials (both - 1.7 %). Export prices grew by 0.4 %, following their three-month fall. Export prices grew mainly in the area of mineral fuels and related products, beverages and manufactured goods. Export prices of machinery and transport equipment increased by 0.2 %. Month-on-month terms of trade stood at 100.6. In year-on-year terms, September was already the fifth month in a row that saw a drop in import prices (this time by 4.7 %). Moreover, decreases were recorded for most commodity items. Prices of mineral fuels experienced the biggest drop (by 17.0 %). Unlike mineral fuels prices or crude materials prices (-9.8 %), machinery and transport equipment prices were down only 2.0 %. Only prices of food increased. Export prices dropped 1.1 % year-on-year, the biggest price decreases were measured for crude materials (-9.9 %) and chemicals and related products (-7.3 %). Prices of machinery and transport equipment dipped by 1.1 %. Also on the export side, price growth was recorded first of all at food. Terms of trade reached 103.8 year-on-year in September.

- Head of EC Delegation in the Czech Republic, Ramiro Cibrian, said that the Czech Republic had made big progress in preparations for EU membership over the past year and that it could be admitted in 2004. Cibrian added that if the pace were kept, a number of countries, including the Czech Republic, would complete their accession negotiations next year. The EC divided the candidate countries into five categories according to how they fulfil economic criteria and on this occasion labeled the Czech Republic along with Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia a "functioning market economy." Cibrian praised the acceleration of court reforms, improvement of macroeconomics and completion of bank privatization, but regretted the absence of a law on civil service. Cibrian stressed that to be able to enter the EU in 2004 the candidates must now concentrate on strengthening the structure of public administration and a reform of the justice system. He also pointed out to persisting problems in the Czech tax system and to more effort required in the "regional policy" chapter, which is to prepare the country for drawing from EU structural funds.

- CTK learnt from reliable sources that the Czech Republic was contemplating protective measures in sectors where high imports may contribute to a deeper foreign trade deficit. The measures would concern a number of products, such as machines and equipment, plastics, pharmaceutical products, chemicals, furniture, glass, wood, textiles and footwear. The prepared measures would be first discussed with the European Commission. The Czech foreign trade deficit amounted to CZK 81.7bn in 2001Q1-3, CZK 8.4bn more than a year ago.

- The Czech crown had opened at 33.23 on Tuesday and then fluctuated within a range of 33.22-33.30 CZK/EUR throughout the day. Neither domestic industrial producers´ prices, nor EUR losses against USD had stronger impact on the CZK/EUR exchange rate. Against the dollar, the crown had opened at 37.29 CZK/USD and then weakened up to 37.73 CZK/USD in the afternoon due to politically driven USD gains against EUR. CZK/EUR was trading at 33.22/25 late on Tuesday, up from 33.26/29 on Monday evening. CZK/USD closed at 37.71/73 on Tuesday, up from late Monday’s 37.11/13.

- Bond prices fell on Tuesday. Eduard Janota’s announcement on a likely Eurobond issue in 2002Q1-2 belonged to rare good news the market received yesterday. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark lost 95bps on Tuesday to 113.15/45, yielding 5.58/55 %. The state 6.75/05 bond dipped 40bps compared to Monday’s close to 105.70/95, yielding 4.81/73 %.

Late on November 13 bond yield Late on November 12
State 6.75/05105.70/954.81/73106.10/35
State 6.95/16113.15/455.58/55114.20/50

(Martin Kupka)

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