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Czech Watch - 12 October 2001

12.10.2001 12:42

Industrial producers’ prices stagnated month-on-month and rose a mere 1.8 % year-on-year in September. In most manufacturing branches, the price changes vis-a-vis August ranged from -0.3 % to +0.3 %, In the sensitive segment “manufacturing of food products, beverages and tobacco” prices slightly dropped (-0.1 %). A major exception was “manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products”, where prices rose 1.0 % compared to August. In “mining and quarrying”, prices grew 0.3 %, driven by higher coal prices. “Electricity, gas and water supply” showed a negligible price increase (+0.1 %). Prices of agriculture producers fell by 1.8 % primarily owing a decrease in fruits and vegetables prices. Prices of construction work grew 0.3 %, while prices of construction material declined 0.3 %. Market services in the business sphere grew 0.4% on average. In year-on-year terms, the PPI growth in industry was the lowest since October 1999, primarily owing to “manufacturing of coke, refined petroleum products” where prices dropped 18.7 %. On the other hand, prices in “manufacturing of food products, beverages and tobacco”, “manufacturing of transport equipment”, and “electricity, gas and water supply” rose by 4.8 %, 5.6 % and 5.9 %, respectively. Prices of agricultural producers jumped 5.6 %, construction work prices increased by 3.8 % and prices of construction material rose 2.6 % year-on-year. Prices of market services in the business sphere grew 1.6 %.
European Commissioner responsible for EU enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, disagrees with his colleague Frits Bolkestein, who is responsible for the single internal market, on transitional periods demanded by candidate countries including the Czech Republic for introduction of a higher excise duty on cigarettes. Bolkestein claims that a single excise duty is one of the instruments of the functioning of the EU single market and a free movement of goods must be accompanied by the same tax on cigarettes everywhere. Verheugen points out to the fact that a sharp rise of the price against their current level would have negative psychological and inflationary consequences in the candidate countries.
Austrian Environment Minister Molterer appealed yesterday to all the parties involved to contribute to arriving at the end of the “Melk process” concerning assessment of the safety and environmental impact of Temelin nuclear power plant. Originally, the process was scheduled to end by the end of June. "Talks with the Czech Republic are continuing. I cannot say today what result will the process bring," said Molterer. Molterer added that the effort of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPŐ) to block the Czech Republic's EU accession due to Temelin was "counter-productive." Austrian officials have linked the completion of the assessment of Temelin's safety with the closure of the energy chapter in the Czech Republic's EU admission talks.
The Saab-BAE Systems competing with its product Gripen for the supply of supersonic fighters for the Czech army said that is was carrying out projects worth CZK 3bn in the Czech Republic and was ready to offer more next year to meet the tender’s condition concerning offsets. According to a Gripen representative, the final assembly of the fighters could be transferred to Aero Vodochody and Aero could also assemble fighters´ fuselages for other countries. The government should decide about the purchase of the fighters by the end of October.
The Czech crown slightly strengthened against the euro and significantly lost against the dollar on Thursday afternoon after calm trading in the morning. The main factor behind the dollar’s firming was ECB´s decision not to cut interest rates. Late on the day, CZK/EUR was trading at 33.56/59, slightly up from 33.59/64 a day earlier. CZK/USD was trading at 37.26/28 late on Thursday, down from late Wednesday’s 36.85/88.
Bond prices were only slightly supported by lower than expected producer price inflation in September. In technical trading on average volumes later on the day, long government bonds and some corporate bonds dipped even below their opening levels. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark bond dropped 40bps to 107.50/80, yielding 6.14/11 %. The state 6.75/05 bond dipped 5bps to 103.45/70, yielding 5.58/49 %.

Late on October 10 bond yield Late on October 9
State 6.75/05103.45/705.58/49103.50/75
State 6.95/16107.50/806.14/11107.90/20

(Martin Kupka)

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