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Czech Watch - 3 August 2001

3.8.2001 10:00

- The Czech National Bank raised its CPI growth forecast for December 2001 from +3.3-4.4 % year-on-year to +5.1-5.8 %. At the end of 2002, CNB expects CPI inflation within the range 3.5-4.9 %. Net inflation is predicted to reach 3.5-4.4 % year-on-year at the end of 2001. The forecasts were based on the assumption that the 2W-repo rate would stay at 5 % until the end of the year. However, the CNB Board hiked the rate by 25bps last week. The revision of inflation forecasts signals that price growth expected by the central bank has shifted from the center towards the upper limit of the targeted headline inflation corridor that replaces the CNB's previous net inflation targets from January 2002. CNB says that in the foreseeable future, inflation development will primarily depend on domestic cost factors, namely food prices and producer prices, and domestic demand pressures will stem chiefly from growing household consumption. Consumer demand is expected to rise by at least 3 % this year and by 3.7 % next year. External inflationary pressure should not be so significant, as oil prices and natural gas prices are expected to stabilize and inflation would be influenced mainly by economic slowdown in the EU. CNB also revised its GDP forecast: it newly predicts that economic growth in the Czech Republic will accelerate to 3.8 % (so far 2.3-3.3 %) this year and 4.5 % (so far 2.4-4.4 %) next year. With respect to the expected GDP growth, CNB's is more optimistic now than the Finance Ministry or the International Monetary Fund.

- CNB Board approved the publication of three contracts concerning last year's purchase of IPB by CSOB. The documents will be displayed at central bank’s website www.cnb.cz . The cabinet endorsed the declassification and CSOB also agreed with the step. The Finance Ministry published a related contract on state guarantees signed last year on Tuesday.

- The Securities Commission (KCP) granted a license to the Prague Stock Exchange (BCPP) for derivatives trading. According to the license, BCPP will be authorized to organize public trading in selected options and futures under certain constraints. The purpose of the imposed constraints is to prevent the overall risk level from surpassing reasonable limits. Settlement related risks should be managed, apart from other methods, by contributions to a clearing fund.

- The anti-monopoly office (UOHS) fined Gillette Czech with CZK 800t (USD 21t) for breaches of the law on price agreements. The agreements date from 1998-1999. Based on the agreements, wholesalers promised to charge retailers the recommended prices. The size of the fine takes into account that Gillette did not force their clients to keep the agreements and left the malpractise before UOHS proceedings even started. The maximum possible fine for this kind of misconduct can reach up to CZK 10m.

- Sell-offs of long positions pulled the Czech crown down against the euro on Thursday but the currency defended the 34 CZK/EUR level. Late on Thursday the crown was nearly flat from late Wednesday at 33.97/00 to the euro. Against the dollar, CZK firmed from 38.62/64 late Wednesday to 38.56/58 late Thursday.

- The state 6.95/16 bond rose 20 basis points at 99.20/50, yielding 7.03/00 %. The state 6.75/05 up flat at 100.60/90, yielding 6.54/44 %. Prices slightly dipped on the short end of the yield curve, while slightly rose at longer maturities.

late August 2 bond yield late August 1
State 6.75/05100.60/906.54/44100.60/90
State 6.95/1699.20/507.03/0099.00/30

(Martin Kupka)

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