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Czech Watch – 11 October 2001

11.10.2001 11:02

- The Czech Statistical Office (CSU) reported that total construction output grew 9.2 % year-on-year in August 2001. The volume of construction work on new civil engineering projects grew faster than repairs and maintenance. Building completion work rose also rapidly. Large companies with 1t+ employees contributed most to the growth of construction output (+ 18.1 % year-on-year). Average nominal wage in the construction sector stood at CZK 15015, up 6.0 % compared to August 2000; real wage grew only 0.5 %. Labor productivity increased 8.7 % and unit wage costs fell by 2.3 %. Seasonally adjusted construction output in August was 3.1 % below its level in July 2001. Nearly 15t building permits were issued in August, worth about CZK 21.7bn, out of which new construction accounted for CZK 13.2bn. A total of 2465 dwellings were permitted for new construction, worth CZK 6.1bn.

- PM Milos Zeman said at a meeting with Czech and Russian businesspeople that the new stage of economic cooperation between the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation would be based on exchange of capital. Zeman assured Russian PM Kasyanov that the Czech government fully supported the project of a new plant for production of Skoda cars near St. Petersburg or in Moscow. The several times postponed project is likely to be launched soon. Zeman added that Russian companies were facing valuable opportunities in the process of privatization of the Czech gas industry but also stressed that "one of the conditions is that the firm that wins the tender will not sell the acquired company in the next ten years at least". Both the Russian and the Czech side expressed serious interest in expansion of their mutual trade. The trade deficit of the Czech Republic with the Russian Federation reached CZK 40.8bn in the first eight months of this year, with Czech exports rising 20.5 % and imports up 2.4 % year-on-year.

- Passenger car sales in the Czech Republic rose 2.6 % year-on-year in January to September 2001, after a mere 0.3 % growth in the first half of the year. Car imports dropped 4.6 % year-on-year in 2001Q1-Q3. The largest domestic passenger car producer, Skoda Auto, sold 61.3t units, up 9.7 % compared to the same period in 2000.

- Magnesium Elektron was granted investment incentives for the processing of magnesium alloys for the car industry in Litvinov, North Bohemia. According to the government agency CzechInvest, the project is worth CZK 403m and will employ 64 people after completion. The incentives are in the form of a ten-year corporate income tax relief and subsidies for the creation of new jobs and for employee re-training. Also, the company will be exempt from customs duty on imports of machines and equipment. In the first months of operation, the entire output will be exported. Magnesium Elektron is a subsidiary of the British Luxfer Group holding which supplies its products to companies active in the aviation and the arms industries.

- The Czech crown did not react to fresh construction output data and the market was calm on Wednesday. CZK/EZR was oscillating within a narrow range of 33.57 to 33.62 all the day and closed at 33.59/64 late in the afternoon, nearly flat compared to 33.61/64 a day earlier. Owing to dollar’s firming against the euro, CZK/USD was trading at 36.85/88 late on Wednesday, up from late Tuesday’s 36.73/75.

- Bond prices slightly rose on Wednesday morning after construction data were published, but soon started to fall, namely at the long end of the yield curve (up to –25bps). Improved investors´ appetite later on the day did not help bonds to climb above last day’s price levels. The yield on government bond 6.30/07 rose 8.60bps, Radiomobil 8.20/04 raised its yield by 17.8bps. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark bond dipped 10bps to 107.90/20, yielding 6.10/07 %. The state 6.75/05 bond lost 5bps to 103.50/75, yielding 5.56/48 %.

Late on October 10 bond yield Late on October 9
State 6.75/05103.50/755.56/48103.55/80
State 6.95/16107.90/206.10/07108.00/30

(Martin Kupka)

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