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Czech Watch – 9 October 2001

9.10.2001 12:52

- President Vaclav Havel visited the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE) in Prague on Monday. Armored vehicles and special army units have been protecting RFE since a couple of weeks because of fear of a terrorist attack. "I came here in this eventful time to reiterate my appreciation, which I have already expressed many times. You spread the message of truth, and this is extremely important," told the President the RFE/RL editors. The RFE/RL was moved from Munich, Germany to Prague in 1995 and started broadcasts to Iraq and Iran in 1998.

- The Czech consumer price index (CPI) rose 4.7 % year-on-year on average in the last 12 months. In September 2001 alone, the year-on-year CPI inflation was also +4.7 % (0.8 percentage points below its August’s level). After a slight month-on-month decrease in consumer prices in August, September saw a drop in the total level of consumer prices by 0.7 %. The drop is primarily owing to lower prices of recreation and culture (-7.1 %), as well as food and non-alcoholic beverages (-0.9 %). Prices of recreation abroad plummeted by 23.3 % month-on-month in September, prices of recreation in the Czech Republic went down by 6.8 %. Food prices were affected by lower prices of fresh vegetables (-7.5 %), potatoes (-9.4 %) and fruit (-7.6 %). A decrease in prices of post and telecommunications was owing to a lower charge for the installation of the stationary residential phone and a continuing decrease in prices of mobile phones. On the other hand, education and medicines got more expensive. The net inflation (targeted by the CNB) reached -1.0 % month-on-month and +3.1 % year-on-year in September. The net inflation is measured on a consumer basket free of items with regulated or administratively influenced prices.

- The central bank vice-governor Oldrich Dedek said on the September inflation that "In spite of the positive developments, the CNB remains aware of the risks of growing inflationary pressure stemming mainly from a relaxed budget policy and a faster development of wages. … Overall, the movement of prices in either direction is affected particularly by major changes in the prices of a relatively narrow segment of goods".

- The registered unemployment rate reached 8.5 % in September 2001. By the end of September, job centers registered 440.5t jobseekers, 3.2t less than a month earlier. Compared with the same month last year, the number of job seekers decreased by 17.8t. Unemployment rose in 31 districts month-on-month, 46 districts enjoyed the opposite development. Female job seekers made up 52.5 % of the unemployed, 13.3 % of the job seekers were persons with reduced working capacity. School leavers´ share in registered unemployment was 14.8 % in September. The lowest unemployment rate was measured in districts of Prague-West (2.5 %), Prague-East (3.0 %), and Benesov (3.2 %). Unemployment rate above 16.5 % was registered in Most (21.4 %), Karvina (17.8 %) and Teplice (16.8 %). There have been 7.0 job seekers for one vacancy in the country with the worst ratio in the district of Karvina (52.7).

- The Czech crown lost slightly against the dollar on Monday morning due to EUR strengthening following the U.S. military actions in Afghanistan. During the day, CZK/EUR oscillated in the range of 33.70-77. Late on Monday, CZK/EUR was trading at 33.71/74, slightly down from late Friday’s 33.66/69. CZK/USD stood at 36.73/75, nearly unchanged from late Friday’s 36.72/74.

- Bond prices responded vigorously to surprising low inflation figures for September. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark bond jumped 70bps to 107.40/70, yielding 6.15/12 %. The state 6.75/05 bond rose 45bps to 103.50/75, yielding 5.56/48 %.

Late on October 5 bond yield Late on October 4
State 6.75/05103.50/755.56/48103.05/30
State 6.95/16107.40/706.15/12105.70/00

(Martin Kupka)

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