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Czech Watch – 15 October 2001

15.10.2001 11:01

- Czech industrial production rose 3.0 % in real terms year-on-year and fell 3.5 % seasonally adjusted month-on-month in August. Industrial sales grew 4.7 % in real terms year-on-year. Foreign-controlled industrial enterprises raised their sales by 11.3 % and their share in total sales reached 42.2 %. Direct export sales of industrial companies grew 5.4 % year-on-year and their share in total sales of the industry was 39.0 %. By category of demand, output for intermediate consumption rose 5.3 %, capital goods production increased by 2.2 %, and the production of consumer non-durables added 5.5 %. On the other hand, consumer durables shrank 3.4 % and energy output 3.1 %. From the point of view of industrial branches, the growth was driven by “rubber and plastic products”, “machinery and equipment”, and “chemicals, chemical products and man-made fibers”, all of which rose more than 15 %. Total industrial employment dropped by 3.2t year-on-year but in manufacturing it rose by 2.8t. The average monthly nominal wage in the industry grew 6.0 % year-on-year. Labor productivity went up by 5.0 % and unit wage costs by 1.0 percentage point year-on-year.

- PM Milos Zeman announced that his government might propose a higher state budget deficit for 2002 than the current CZK 10bn if the ODS would not support the budget bill in the Chamber of Deputies. When indicating the extent of the possible change, Zeman spoke about a 15bn gap instead of the 10bn one. "The ODS has already made it clear that it will not support the budget in the first reading and if it is so, I am announcing my counter-measure," Zeman said. On a related note, Christian Democrat decided at their national conference last weekend that their deputies would not support the government-sponsored bill on the state budget for the next year. They want to ask the government to withdraw the budget bill and submit a new one. Party leader Cyril Svoboda said that the newly drafted budget should be truthful, should take into account public security and provide for normal working of newly established regions and universities.

- Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok said that the Czech Republic was contemplating state Eurobond issues but this is unlikely to occur before the end of 2001. Rusnok added that the Finance Ministry took into account the shocks on world markets in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the U.S., as well as the recent firming of the Czech currency. The Czech Republic is the last among the post-communist countries in the CEE that has not come up yet with a Eurobond issue. Until recently, this was enabled by a low state debt, which however is going to increase to 20 % of the GDP next year, the minister explained.

- Six building societies operating in the Czech Republic concluded more than 1m new contracts in 2001Q1-3, up 32 % year-on-year. The target sum rose 30 % year-on-year to CZK 136bn at the end of September. Home-building savings are (up to a certain volume of savings) the best interest-bearing low-risk investment in the country. Ceskomoravska stavebni sporitelna (CMSS) is the market leader with the target sum of CZK 60.5bn (44 % of the total). By the target sum, Vseobecna stavebni sporitelna of KB ranks second ahead of CSST of Ceska sporitelna.

- The Czech crown slightly lost against the euro in morning trading on Friday as a result of weaker than expected industrial output data. In the afternoon though, CZK strengthened again up to a new all-time maximum of 33.453 CZK/EUR. Following a correction later in the afternoon, CZK/EUR closed at 33.48/51, up from 33.56/59 a day earlier. Against the dollar, the crown firmed slightly in the morning part of the trading and than even more significantly in the afternoon. CZK/USD was trading at 36.88/90 late on Friday, up from late Thursday’s 37.26/28.

- Bond prices did not change much in predominantly technical trading on Friday. Neither weaker than expected industrial growth data nor comments by CNB Governor Tuma on stronger than expected dampening impact of economic slowdown abroad on the Czech GDP provided sufficient impetus for significant price gains. The government bond 6.40/10 closed 15bps above its Thursday’s level at 102.70/00, yielding 5.98/93 %. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark dropped 10bps to 107.40/70, yielding 6.15/12 %, and the state 6.75/05 bond was trading flat from its preceding day’s close at 103.46/71, yielding 5.57/49 %.

Late on October 12 bond yield Late on October 11
State 6.75/05103.46/715.57/49103.45/70
State 6.95/16107.40/706.15/12107.50/80

(Martin Kupka)

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