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Czech Watch – 19 July 2001

19.7.2001 11:17

- Import prices grew 0.3 % and export prices rose 0.1 % month-on-month in May. For the first time since May 1999, import prices fell year-on-year (-0.7 %). Year-on-year growth of export prices was 0.9 %. In April, import prices were up 2.2 % and export prices 1.9 % year-on-year. The strongest import price increase against April was measured at mineral fuels (+4.0 %). Export prices slightly increased in most commodity sections, most again at mineral fuels (+1.6 %). On the other hand, export prices of crude materials except fuels fell 0.8 % and export prices of chemicals and related products dropped 0.6 %. Year-on-year, mineral fuels cost by 4.5 % more in May, the deepest price decrease was reported for chemicals and related products (-3.1 %). Export prices grew most at mineral fuels (10.7 %). Year-on-year terms of trade reached 101.6 in May.

- Austrian Environment Minister Wilhelm Molterer rejected demands to veto the Czech Republic's accession to the EU due to doubts over the safety of the Temelin nuclear plant. Molterer added that similarly to Germany, Austria should prepare a statement on the Czech environmental impact assessment of Temelin in the coming weeks. Molterer also expects the European Commission to publish a statement outlining its position on the plant.

- FNM vice-chairman Jan Juchelka said CTK that the National Property Fund (FNM) expects CZK 80bn in proceeds from the privatization of Cesky Telecom this year. The CZK 80bn expected for the state’s stake in Czech Telecom mean CZK 487 per share or a 44 % premium above the stock price on Wednesday. On the other hand, Juchelka does not consider realistic the arrival of proceeds from the privatization of the energy sector in 2001. Juchelka stressed that finding Cesky Telecom's strategic investor by the end of October and collection of the payment by the end of the year was an ambitious goal but the FNM would do its best to achieve it. As to Ceske radiokomunikace, the government should decide on their privatization next Wednesday at its last session before the summer holiday.

- The Wiggins Group of Britain, partner of the offset team for potential supplies of supersonic Gripen fighters to the Czech army, will invest USD 279m in the renovation of the airport in Plzen, West Bohemia. The project should create 2t new jobs and secure an annual income worth USD 45m. Wiggins chief executive Christopher Foster expects the Plzen airport to become a major center for regional transport, freight transport and trade.

- The Energy Regulation Office has granted 43 licenses so far to companies operating in the energy sector and another 77 applications are still considered. A new energy law requires that as of the next year all firms active in the energy sector have a license. All 6t firms currently working in the energy sector posses an authorization issued by the Industry and Trade Ministry. Licenses for selling electricity and gas are granted for 5 years. Those for the production of electricity and gas, the transmission of electricity and transport of gas, the distribution of electricity and gas, gas storage, and the production and distribution of heat are granted for at least 25 years. The market with electricity will start to gradually open next year and the market with gas in 2005.

- The Czech crown lost ground against the euro but rose against the dollar on Wednesday. The only reason for the development was euro strengthening against the dollar. Late on the day, the crown was at 33.87/90 to the euro from 33.80/83 late on Tuesday. The crown/dollar rose to 38.92/94 after 39.55/57 late Tuesday.

- Bond prices grew on Wednesday. The CEZ 8.75/04 bond rose 70bps from Tuesday's close to 104.40/70, yielding 6.99/88 %. The longest state 6.95/16 bond rose 70bps to 98.40/70, yielding 7.12/09 %. The state 6.75/05 rose 10bps to 100.80/10, yielding 6.48/38 %. The most watched event on Thursday will be CNB Board meeting, where the interest rates setting can be discussed.

late July 18 bond yield late July 17
State 6.75/05100.80/106.48/38100.70/00
State 6.95/1698.40/707.12/0997.70/00

(Martin Kupka)

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