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Czech Watch – 9 November 2001

9.11.2001 8:54

- Average year-on-year CPI growth in the last 12 months to October amounted to +4.7 %. In October alone, the CPI growth stood at +4.4 % year-on-year or 0.3 percentage points below its September level. In month-on-month terms, consumer prices remained unchanged in October. The price development varied across products. The drop in prices of transport and recreation and culture in particular was compensated by a moderate growth of prices of miscellaneous goods and services, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, clothing and footwear, restaurants and hotels. The development of consumer prices was positively influenced by prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages, which slightly dropped this October (contrary to a 1.4% month-on-month growth last year). Core inflation (price level change measured on the whole consumer basket and adjusted for the influence of changes in regulated prices, tax adjustments and other administrative measures) was zero month-on-month in October or +0.1 % after seasonal adjustment. Net inflation (targeted by the CNB) amounted to -0.1 % month-on-month and +2.7 % year-on-year in October. The net inflation has been measured on the consumer basket, from which items, whose prices are regulated or influenced by administrative measures, have been excluded. Items, whose prices change due to tax adjustments, remain part of the consumer basket, but the influence of the tax adjustments is eliminated.

- The CNB vice-governor Oldrich Dedek told CTK that the October inflation figures clearly confirmed the calming of the price level and a high probability of meeting this year’s inflation target of the Czech National Bank. There is "no reason for re-evaluating the current inflation prognosis and for changing the stance on the macroeconomic situation, even in the longer-term horizon," Dedek added.

- Industrial production rose +1.1 % year-on-year in September and after working days adjustment the growth rate would increase to +3.4 %. Industrial sales grew +1.3 % year-on-year at constant prices and +3.7% after working days adjustment. Foreign-controlled industrial firms expanded their sales by +6.8 % and their share in total sales accounted reached 40.2 %. Direct export sales of industrial companies grew 9.2 % and their share in total industrial sales amounted to 42.8 %. Industrial production for intermediate consumption rose 3.7 %, production for capital goods added 0.1 %, consumer durables shrank by 1.0 %, consumer non-durables reduced by 3.9 %, and energy output increased by 1.6 % year-on-year. Growth of industrial production and sales occurred primarily owing to growing manufacturing of wood and wood products, manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products, manufacturing of rubber and plastic products, and manufacturing of electrical and optical equipment. On the other hand, industrial production declined especially in manufacturing of food and transport equipment. Seasonally adjusted industrial production decreased 0.2 % month-on-month. The average monthly nominal wage in industry grew 4.6 % year-on-year in September, labor productivity increased by 1.8 % and unit wage costs were 2.8 percentage points higher.

- The average Czech unemployment rate slightly fell to 8.4 % in October (after 8.5 % in both September 2001 and October 2000). 26 job centers witnessed growing number of the unemployed compared to September, while 51 job centers showed a monthly decrease. Female job seekers made up 52.1 % of the unemployed, persons with reduced working capacity 13.6 %. The share of school leavers in total unemployment reached 14.2 %. In October 2001, job centers paid off unemployment benefits to 36.1 % of registered job seekers. The lowest unemployment rate was measured in districts of Prague-West (2.5 %), Prague-East (2.9 %), and Pelhrimov (3.1 %). The highest unemployment rate was reported from Most (21.0 %), Karvina (17.8 %), and Ostrava-City (16.1 %). There have been 7.2 job seekers competing for one vacancy on average, the highest ratio was measured in Most (45.1) and Karvina (37.6).

- The Czech crown had opened at 33.41 and then strengthened up to 33.27 CZK/EUR during the morning part of the session. Two weeks ago, CNB intervened against the crown at a comparable level, which might be a reason why CZK later reversed its development and stabilized around 33.40 CZK/EUR. Neither of numerous macroeconomic indicators reported on Thursday had significant impact on the crown’s exchange rate. Against the dollar, the crown had opened at 37.25 and then strengthened up to 37.12 during the morning hours. In the afternoon, following the ECB interest rate cut, the crown had first firmed up to 37.03 CZK/USD but then rapidly weakened. CZK/ EUR was trading at 33.37/40 late on Thursday, slightly up from 33.41/44 on Wednesday evening. CZK/USD closed at 37.48/50 on Thursday, down from late Wednesday’s 37.12/14.

- Bond prices dropped considerably on Thursday. Slightly higher than expected CPI inflation started a wave of sell-offs that - with only one significant interruption – dominated the market. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark lost 280bps on Thursday to 115.55/85, yielding 5.36/33 %. The state 6.75/05 bond dipped 60bps compared to Wednesday’s close to 106.15/40, yielding 4.67/58 %. On Friday, investors have been invited to participate in an auction of CZK 5bn of the state 6.95/16 bond.

Late on November 8 bond yield Late on November 7
State 6.75/05106.15/404.67/58106.75/00
State 6.95/16115.55/855.36/33118.35/65

(Martin Kupka)

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