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Czech Watch – 10 October 2001

10.10.2001 11:08

- PM Zeman said after his meeting with Russian PM Kasyanov that Russian membership in NATO in the world changed after recent terrorist attacks cannot be a priori rejected. According to Zeman, NATO´s priority in the current situation is to fight against international terrorism and Zeman "would like to appreciate the effort of the Russian government, Russian premier and president that the Russian Federation takes part in the long term fight". Czech premier added that the opinion had been discussed in the Czech government before the meeting.

- The monthly Situation Report serving as input for CNB Bord´s September meeting on interest rates said that available macroeconomic data signaled stabilization of inflation and improved inflation expectations as expressed by a more moderate slope of the yield curve. The CSO’s GDP growth estimate for 2001Q2 corresponded to the CNB’s assumptions including changing proportion between domestic and foreign demand. Declining foreign demand, reduction in the price competitiveness of domestic production, as well as a growing risk of demand-pulled inflation was labeled as major medium term macroeconomic risks. Among potential risks for the Czech economy, the Report further mentioned fast growing money supply (+12.8 % year-on-year in August), and partly also increased positive interest rate differential after interest rate cuts by major central banks in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in the USA. According to the Report, however, global uncertainty should hamper increase of debt capital inflow to the Czech Republic as a result of the widened gap. As to the frequently quoted fiscal problem, the Report has been reserved due to missing reliable information about the public finance outlook and related difficulty with identification of the real extent of the risks linked to expansive fiscal policy.

- Martin Tlapa, CEO of government agency CzechTrade, said that the war in Afghanistan could have negative impact on Czech trading with Arab countries interested in supplies of Czech investment projects, especially in the energy and engineering sectors. The Czech Republic's surplus in trade with Arab countries has been decreasing in recent years (USD 157m in 2000). The United Arab Emirates has been the Czech Republic's largest business partner in the Arab world now. Czech exports to the UAE rose 20+ % in January to August year-on-year and consisted largely of non-metal products and electrical devices and appliances. The countries with rapidly shrinking imports from the Czech Republic include Syria, Libya and embargoed Iraq.

- Czech Republic and the Russian Federation finally signed an agreement on the unblocking of the Russian debt to the Czech Republic. The agreement tackles about USD2.5bn out of the total Russian debt amounting to some USD 3.6bn. Falkon Capital company will buy the claim on Russia from the Czech government for 20 % of its book value. The money should be paid before the end of this year and become part of the state budget revenues in 2002.

- The Czech crown was firming against the euro on Tuesday morning primarily owing to currency speculations based on expected privatization-related transactions. In the afternoon, the market calmed down and late on the day CZK/EUR was trading at 33.61/64, slightly up from late Monday’s 33.71/74. CZK/USD stood at 36.73/75 late on Tuesday, unchanged from the late Monday’s level.

- Bond prices grew again on Tuesday owing to a wave of purchases in the afternoon. Also corporate issues benefited from the investors´ interest. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark bond rose 60bps to 108.00/30, yielding 6.09/06 %. The state 6.75/05 bond added 5bps to 103.55/80, yielding 5.55/46 %.

Late on October 9 bond yield Late on October 8
State 6.75/05103.55/805.55/46103.50/75
State 6.95/16108.00/306.09/06107.40/70

(Martin Kupka)

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