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Czech Watch – 23 October 2001

23.10.2001 9:42

- Imports at current prices grew 2.6 % and exports added 7.7 % year-on-year in September. As a result, the balance of trade was positive (CZK +1.8bn) for the first time since September 1999. Machinery and transport equipment drove again the trade growth, with exports rising 14.1 % and imports 5.5 %. Machinery and transport equipment also showed the largest trade surplus in absolute terms (CZK +6.8bn), followed by miscellaneous manufactured (consumer) articles (CZK +2.4bn). After two months in deficit, Czech balance of trade with Germany turned positive again in September (CZK +5.0bn) owing to slightly growing exports and falling imports (+3.1 % and -0.8 %, respectively). In month-on-month terms, seasonally adjusted September imports were 0.9 % and exports 4.9 % higher. In January to September, imports grew 15.8 % and exports added 16.2 % in nominal terms year-on-year; trade deficit rose by CZK 8.4bn to CZK 81.7bn.

- Univyc, a subsidiary of the Prague Stock Exchange (BCPP) in charge of the settlement of securities transfers, told CTK that it would settle deals on the day the trading is executed (T+0) as of January 2002. The project answering demands of dealers and the Ministry of Finance seeks to simplify trading conditions and raise volumes, as well as to open broad public doors to the state bond market. The T+0 service with a transfer of all securities immediately after the deal was made is already being offered by the alternative off-exchange RM-System.

- Skoda Auto sold 357t cars worldwide in January to September 2001, up 13.5 %t year-on-year. Sales in the Czech republic rose by 9.9 % to 64t units, which represented a market share of 54 %. Despite stagnation and recession at world car markets, Skoda Auto sales in CEE countries rose by 22.9 % to 90t units and in Western Europe by 14.1 % to 192t cars. Sales of Skoda cars to the largest export market, Germany rose by 9.1 % to 53t units, which corresponds to market penetration slightly above 2 %. Skoda´s share in the Polish market reached 11.2 %, in Slovakia the market share amounted to 54.6 %. In Western Europe, Austria is the country with the largest market penetration (6.6 %) for Skoda. In 2001, Skoda Auto plans to sell a total of 460t cars, compared to 435t cars in 2000.

- The Ministry of Transport and Communications launched a public tender for an operator and a lessee of the international airport in Brno-Turany. The airport is used for the Czech Airlines´ regular inland flights and for charter flights. In the first half of 2001, Brno-Turany checked in a total of 34t passengers, up 9.2 % year-on-year, and cargo transport rose there 10.7 %. The bids are due by November 2. Now the airport is held by the state and managed by the state-owned Czech Airports Authority (CSL). Its leasing is a pilot project for the leasing of regional airports in Ostrava-Mosnov, North Moravia and Karlovy Vary, West Bohemia. According to the ministry, leasing should improve economic performance of loss making airports. The international airport in Prague-Ruzyne, operated by the CSL as well, is to be offered for sale in the first half of 2002.

- The Czech crown opened at 33.46 against the euro on Monday and strengthened up to a new all-time maximum of 33.30 CZK/EUR early in the afternoon. The main reason for the firming was favorable foreign trade result in September reported yesterday. Against the dollar, the crown had opened at 37.20 and then was oscillating within a range of 37.12 to 37.26 most of the day. CZK/EUR was trading at 33.30/33 late on Monday, up from 33.46/49 a day earlier. CZK/USD closed at 37.42/43 on Monday, down from late Friday’s 37.22/24.

- Bond prices did not react significantly to positive foreign trade data in weak trading on Monday. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark closed flat from Friday at 109.80/10, yielding 5.91/88 %. Nor the state 6.75/05 bond changed its price and was trading at 103.90/15 late on Monday, yielding 5.42/34 %.

Late on October 22 bond yield Late on October 19
State 6.75/05103.90/155.42/34103.90/15
State 6.95/16109.80/105.91/88109.80/10

(Martin Kupka)

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