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Czech Watch - 26 October 2001

26.10.2001 10:17
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- The Czech national bank assesed that the risk of a slowdown of the growth of the Czech Republic's gross domestic product following worldwide recession today prevailed over the risk of higher inflation in the central bank board's considerations of possible interest rate changes Hence, the CNB left interest rates unchanged.

- However, the CNB surprised markets. It decised to intervene on the FX market against the Czech currency buying euro. The Czech koruna then fell form from 33.30 CZK/EUR to 33.78 CZK/EUR. This week, the koruna beat several records and on Wednesday morning firmed to an all-time high of Kc33.19/EUR. The CNB fears that the strong currency could stimulate excessive imports and reduce the profit of exporters to such an extent that they stop exporting. The balance of payments than might collaps and the exchange rate could sharply fall.

- The supervisory board of Ceska konsolidacni agentura yesterday approved the sale of 91.61 pct of shares in lorry maker Tatra Koprivnice to US company SDC International. SDC International bid CZK 1.25bn for 91.61 pct of Tatra shares, which are now controlled by CKA and Kras Brno. The sum includes both the investment which SDC intends to put into Tatra next year as well as the settlement of CKA's claim on Tatra, which allegedly amounts to CZK 400m.

- The German goverment announced its revised forecasts of the GDP growth for this and next year. Previuously it ecpected an increase by 2.0% in 2001. Revised forecast diminished to 0.75%. In 2002, the GDP should rise by 1.25% instead of previously expected 2.25%.

- U.S. macroeconomic indicators released yesterday confirmed a dismal future of the American economy. New claims for unemployment benefits for the week ended October 20 tose to 504 thousands compared with an upwrdly revised 496 thousands the prior week. Durable goods orders in September fell sharply by 8.5% and August figure was revised downward to a 0.5% drop from an unchanged reading in August.

(David Marek)

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