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Czech Watch – 19 October 2001

19.10.2001 11:12

- Services rose 3.2 % year-on-year in real terms in August and 5.0 % since the beginning of 2001. Seasonally adjusted month-on-month real growth of services reached 0.6 % in August. In retail trade (incl. sale and repair of motor vehicles and sale of automotive fuel), real sales grew 3.7 % year-on-year. A steep growth was recorded first of all at large non-specialized stores (+11.3%). On the other hand, the deepest fall was reported for sales of small stores specialized in selling books, periodicals, computers and software. The sales fell below last year's level also in hotels and restaurants. Total transport sales increased 4.6 % year-on-year but rail transport sales dropped 12.1 %. Sales in communication grew 14.5 %. Sales in the area of computers and related activities dipped 0.6 %.

- Lower Chamber of the parliament returned after the first reading the first draft of the state budget for 2002 to the CSSD-cabinet for reworking. The whole opposition pushed through the decision. ODS chairman Vaclav Klaus later said that his party could back the second version of the 2002 budget bill if the cabinet adjusted the rejected version in accordance with the Chamber's recommendations. The Quad-Coalition (4K) warned, though, that the cabinet would be unable to rework the draft substantially. "It will be a mere cosmetic adjustment, which was already agreed on before the vote today," said 4K MP Kalousek referring to the ODS-CSSD “opposition agreement”. The communists (KSCM) said they would not back the second version of the budget if the government reworked it according to the right's recommendations. The recommendations include a more realistic estimate of budget revenues, spending of National Property Fund’s revenues preferentially on covering the state debt, revision of the Czech Consolidation Agency's debt or increased draft revenues of regions. The second version of the draft is scheduled to be discussed in first reading on November 9 and the actual vote on the budget is supposed to take place at a regular session of the Chamber of Deputies on December 18.

- Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok expects the 2001 state budget to end with a deficit of CZK 85bn instead of the so far predicted CZK 95bn. Originally, the state budget had been approved with a deficit of CZK 49bn, including Konsolidacni banka's loss for 2000. Owing to the fact that the current deficit will finally shrink by CZK 10-11bn, the government will be able to cover the sum by which last year's approved deficit was surpassed (and the Chamber of Deputies consequently did not approve the state final account for 2000).

- The Senate insists on a provision stipulating that the Czech National Bank's (CNB) primary objective is to take care of price stability to be part the cabinet-sponsored constitutional amendment. According to senators, the provision was in accord with the European Union's requirements and if the objective had not been set, deputies could have fixed it as they wished by means of a law. The Chamber of Deputies will now have to discuss the constitutional amendment once again as both chambers of the Parliament must agree on an identical version of the amendment in order for the constitutional change to be passed.

- The Czech crown had opened against the euro at the same level on Thursday as on Tuesday and Wednesday: 33.46 CZK/EUR. After slight firming of the crown in the morning and the following correction, CZK/EUR was trading at 33.48/51 late in the afternoon, unchanged from its level late on Wednesday. Against the dollar, the crown opened at 36.83 yesterday and then was weakening up to the level of 37.10 CZK/USD close to which it then stayed till the end of the session. Late in the afternoon, CZK/USD closed at 37.11/13, down from late Wednesday’s 36.95/97.

- Bond prices rose on Thursday owing to positive expectations concerning today’s auction of a state 5Y bond and Finance Minister Rusnok´s belief in possibility of a 25bps interest rate cut by the CNB. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark jumped 195bps to 109.80/10, yielding 5.91/88 %. The state 6.75/05 bond rose by 25bps to 103.95/20, yielding 5.41/32 %.

Late on October 18 bond yield Late on October 17
State 6.75/05103.95/205.41/32103.70/95
State 6.95/16109.80/105.91/88107.85/15

(Martin Kupka)

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