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Czech Watch – 16 May 2001

16.5.2001 9:00

Industrial producer prices fell 0.6 % month-on-month in April, mainly owing to seasonal cuts of wholesale prices of electricity. In manufacturing alone, month-on-month inflation accelerated to +0.3 % after +0.1 % in March. In year-on-year terms, PPI rose +4.0 % after +4.1 in March. Agricultural producer prices rose 0.8 % month-on-month and +12.2 % year-on-year. Prices of construction works grew estimated 0.3 % month-on-month and +4.3 % year-on year. Construction materials and products jumped +1.1 % month-on-month but added only +3,6 % year-on-year.

Industrial output rose +9.8 % year-on-year in March. After adjustment for a different number of workdays, the growth rate increases to +12.0 % after +8.8 % in February. The strong industrial growth was driven by accelerated foreign demand for Czech goods (revenues from direct industrial export rose +16.2 %). Industrial production of investment goods expanded by 30.5 % (!) year-on-year. Industrial sales in fixed prices grew +8.1 % year-on-year or +10.3 % after the adjustment for workdays (in companies controlled by foreign investors, though, real sales rose much faster, +16.4 %). Average monthly nominal wage in industry grew +4.2 % year-on-year. Employment in manufacturing rose 2.4 %. Labor productivity growth in industry surpassed average nominal wage growth and unit labor cost dropped 2.1 % year-on-year in March.

The Czech government agency CzechInvest announced on Tuesday that it had granted investment incentives to German corrugated cardboard maker Prowell for a green-field plant worth of CZK 850m. Prowell gets breaks on corporate tax and machinery import tariffs. Prowell s.r.o., a unit of Prowell Papierverarbeitung GmbH, is going to build the new plant in Rokycany, 70 km south east of Prague.

Trading in the Czech crown was sluggish on Tuesday. CZK stayed in a narrow range of 34.35-43 on a flat EUR/USD and ahead of a possible interest rate cut by the U.S. Fed later in the day. In late Tuesday trade CZK/EUR was at 34.41/44 from 34.36/39 late Monday. The crown/dollar was up at 39.17/19 from 39.29/30 late Monday. Market expected the 50 basis point cut by the Fed. Earlier on Tuesday, CSU announced industrial output rise as high as +9.8 %, while analysts polled by Reuters had expected a mere +6.2 % rise. Similarly, the actual April industrial producer prices fall amounted to 0.6 % month-on-month, beating analysts' forecast of a mere 0.2 % drop. Dealers said, though, that the discrepancies did not have a significant impact on the crown.

The state 6.95/16 bond dropped 65 basis points to 103.35/65, yielding 6.58/55 %. The state 6.75/05 bond fell 13 points to 103.62/92, yielding 5.64/55 %. Czech parliament on Tuesday overrode a presidential veto and passed a bill planning a CZK 4.8bn bond issue to cover debts to Germany. President Vaclav Havel vetoed the bill a month ago arguing that it contained unrelated controversial points on state financing of political parties. But the CSSD and opposition jointly overrode the veto with 160 of the 182 deputies present for the vote casting and pushed through the law in its entirety. The bond will be issued locally and denominated in CZK. The first half of the bond will be issued by June 30, the second half is scheduled to be issued by September 30.

late May 15 bond yield late May 14
State 6.75/05103.62/925.64/55103.75/05
State 6.95/16103.35/656.58/55104.00/30

(Martin Kupka)

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