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Czech Watch - 1 August 2001

1.8.2001 8:54

- Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel sharply criticized Joerg Haider, former chairman of the Freedom Party, for his threat that Austria would veto the Czech Republic's entry to the EU if Prague refused to shut down the Temelin nuclear power plant. Freedom Party is a member of the Austrian coalition government together with Schuessel's People's Party.

- M2 money supply rose 13.1 % year-on-year in the Czech Republic in June, following an 11.4 % growth in May. The overall volume of crown and foreign currency deposits of clients in banks rose by 16.5 % year-on-year at end-June, compared with a 12.5 % growth at end-May. Crown-denominated demand deposits of households grew by 4.9bn between end-May and end-June, to CZK 228.7bn. Time deposits of households rose from CZK 579.5bn to CZK 583.9bn.

- The National Property Fund (FNM) declared 20 public tenders during 2001H1 and signed nine purchase contracts totalling nearly CZK 6.7bn in the period. The top deal was the sale of 66 % in Prazske vodovody a kanalizace to Vivendi/Anglian Water. FNM also sold a couple of companies on the capital market and realized 9 direct sales. On the expenditure side, restitution claims consumed CZK 376m from the Fund’s budget and three gratis transfers of assets another CZK 291m.

- Trade unions at the Auto Skoda went on strike alert in order to make the management sign an agreement on labor conditions reached on Friday. According to the agreement, 13 people should reinforce each shift. The trade unions fear that without the signing, the management would gradually violate its promises. Trade unions stopped work for half an hour on an assembly line last Thursday in protest against what they called excessive workload.

- The European Commission (EC) sent copies of a report on the safety of the Temelin NPP to Milos Zeman and Wolfgang Schuessel. The report summarizes six months of talks on Temelin involving Czech, Austrian and EC negotiators. The report addresses 29 points marked by the Austrians as problematic. The points are divided into three groups. In the first group, there are issues that have been resolved. The second group includes topics that will be subject of routine dialogue between Czechs and Austrians. The points where only little progress was reached fall into the third group and will be discussed further by appropriate bodies.

- Ceskoslovenska obchodni banka (CSOB) netted CZK 2.14bn by the Czech Accounting Standards (CAS) in 2001H1, up from CZK 1.07bn in 2000H1. Total assets increased to CZK 565.6bn up from CZK 307.9bn over the same period last year. The 2000H1 figures do not include the results of IPB. For a better comparison, at the end of 2000 including IPB, the CSOB's total assets reached CZK 546bn. In late June 2001, client deposits in CSOB reached CZK 376bn, compared to CZK 353bn at the end of the last year.

- A falling Polish zloty pulled down regional currencies on Tuesday, including the Czech crown. Late on the day, the crown was at 33.96/00 to the euro from 33.86/89 late Monday. The crown/dollar weakened to 38.81/83 from 38.69/71 late Monday.

- Also Czech bonds slightly fell from Monday's close in weak trading on Tuesday. The state 6.95/16 bond dipped 5 basis points to 98.50/80, yielding 7.11/08 %. The state 6.75/05 ended flat at 100.65/95, yielding 6.52/42 %. Corporate MERO 1b 10.3/11 lost 50bps. On Thursday, CNB should unveil its new scenario of inflation development in the Czech Republic.

late July 31 bond yield late July 30
State 6.75/05100.65/956.52/42100.65/95
State 6.95/1698.50/807.11/0898.55/85

(Martin Kupka)

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