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Czech Watch - 3 October 2001

3.10.2001 10:44

Premier Milos Zeman said in a special televised speech that Czech government was ready to provide its allies with field hospitals, anti-chemical units and the sixth brigade of special units for the expected anti-terrorist operation. Zeman stressed that there should be no negotiations with terrorists, only a fight. The Czech Republic wants to provide specific help in its own interest and within its own forces and capabilities and its government would not fight only against terrorists, but also their protectors, Zeman added.

- According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Czech Republic might close the energy chapter with the EU as soon as this month if Czech negotiators persuade its EU counterparts that the Temelin nuclear power plant is a political rather than a technical problem. Jiri Havlik, the head of the Foreign Ministry's EU department, said that the Melk process has removed a most doubts raised by the Austrian side against Temelin. In addition, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Frantisek Kubelka announced that the Czech Republic withdrew one out of the three transition periods it originally required, namely the liberalization of the Czech electricity market. The market will start opening in 2002 it will be open to all end-users in 2006. The EU agreed to two transition periods, concerning the liberalization of the Czech gas market and the creation of oil reserves, where the deadlines were postponed from 2003 till 2005 and 2006, respectively.

- The government agency CzechTrade believes that the current firming of the Czech crown will have no major impact on Czech exports in near future. The reason is that contracts for principal items, such as exports of complete plants, are signed several years in advance. Because the crown strengthened about 3 % against the euro year-on-year, net exporters will see their crown denominated income decline but, on the other hand, most of them also import raw materials and parts from abroad, CzechTrade explained. If the crown continues to strengthen, though, the competitiveness of Czech exporters on foreign markets would be endangered. The Czech crown reached its all-time high of 33.64 CZK/EUR yesterday and vis-a-vis the dollar stood at the highest level since early January 2001.

- The Czech Export Bank (CEB) and the Bank of China are going to sign loan contracts for the Czech supplies worth USD 268.5m for a thermal power station in Shen-tou in late October or early November. The maximum available export loan to the Chinese will account for 85 % of the contracted price. The Chinese have indicated that the loan’s maturity should not exceed five years with settlement starting after the supplies are finished, i.e. after four to five years. Skodaexport and China Electric Power Technology Import and Export Corporation signed the contract for the construction of the power plant in Shen-tou as early as in December 1999 and the contract is to take effect when the loan contracts are signed. The Skodaexport leads a Czech-Slovak consortium of suppliers, including also Skoda Praha, Skoda Energo and SES Tlmace.

- The Czech crown gained to 33.53 CZK/EUR yesterday, which was its all-time high, primarily owing to speculations about the conversion of the eurocurrency for crowns in order to settle the crown denominated payment for KB by Societe Generale. The payment for KB is expected to arrive by October 8. Against the dollar, the crown firmed to 36.67 CZK/USD, its highest since early January 2001. Late on Tuesday, CZK/EUR was trading at 33.59/62, up from 33.78/81 a day earlier. CZK/USD stood 36.71/74 in late afternoon, up from late Monday’s 36.89/91.

- Bond prices rose again on Tuesday. Similarly to Monday, investors focused on longest maturities in both state and corporate market segment. Corporate issues maturing in two to four years and MBS were less popular. After temporary cooling in the middle of the yesterday’s session, purchases intensified again in the afternoon. The longest state 6.95/16 benchmark bond added 90bps to 106.00/30, yielding 6.30/27 %. The state 6.75/05 bond gained 20bps to 103.30/55, yielding 5.63/55 %.

Late on October 2 bond yield Late on October 1
State 6.75/05103.30/555.63/55103.10/35
State 6.95/16106.00/306.30/27105.10/40

(Martin Kupka)

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