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Czech Watch – 30 April 2001

30.4.2001 9:31

- The Czech Ministry of Finance changed its macroeconomic forecasts. For GDP, it raised the 2001 growth outlook to 3.5 % from the previous 3.0 %. The forecast for 2002 is +3.8 %. The market consensus forecast sees a +3.4 % growth in 2001 and +4.0 % growth in 2002, according to a Reuters poll of analysts. The ministry’s new trade deficit forecast for 2001 year is CZK 150bn up from previous CZK 140bn. The forecast of the current account gap widens to 5.5 % of GDP, from previous 4.6 %. Widening of the trade deficit is attributed to high demand for investment goods and also to signals of weakening demand in Germany. The new forecasts express confidence of the Czech government that the domestic investment-driven recovery will continue despite the economic cooling abroad. The MoF also cut its prediction for the public finance deficit (privatization excluded), to CZK 184.4bn, or 9.0 % of GDP in 2001, down from previous 9.4 % of GDP. The new forecast of overall fiscal deficit including privatization revenues fell to 1.0 % of GDP, compared to previous forecast of 2.8 %, owing to increased optimism of MoF concerning privatization revenue forecast. The ministry said that it expected privatization revenue to reach CZK 170bn this year, or 8.4 % of GDP. Many analysts disagree with the optimism, though, and say that this year’s privatization proceeds will be significantly lower than the MoF expects in its updated outlook. Also outgoing FNM chairman Jiří Havel and new Finance Minister Jiří Rusnok believe that reaching those proceeds is unrealistic.

- ČNB Governor Zdeněk Tůma said in Washington that the central bank sees no reason to touch interest rates now. Tůma can fancy a further interest rate cut if U.S. economic downturn continues and hits Europe.

- State-owned enterprise Transgas will be transformed into a joint-stock company by May 2. As soon as on April 3, the National Property Fund invites potential investors to express their preliminary interest in purchase of the state stock in Transgas and eight natural gas distributors. The invitation should be a signal to investors that gas privatization follows a schedule passed by the government.

- Prague based weekly Euro reports that Deutsche Bank along with Gutmann & Cie are interested in buying the next tranche of assets to be offered by Konsolidační banka for a discounted price. In order to facilitate the purchase, a joint venture was founded where Deutsche Bank will hold 70-90 p% and Gutmann & Cie Praha will keep the rest. Gutmann & Cie Praha expect that the auction of assets can take place in June or July. The first tranche of KoB´s problem assets was sold for a price equal to 7.1 % of their nominal value to the company Czech Debt Vehicle 1 owned by Goldman Sachs, International Finance Corporation and Flow East.

- CZK firmed against EUR on Friday, boosted by a large CZK acquisition by foreign dealers and strengthening dollar vs. euro following publication of surprisingly good first quarter GDP results in the U.S. Late on Friday CZK traded at 34.50/55 to EUR from 34.63/64 late on Thursday. CZK/USD fell to 38.71/74 from 38.41/44 late Thursday.

- The longest state 6.95/16 bond did not change its price of 105.50/80, yielding 6.36/33 %. The state 6.75/05 was also flat at 104.35/65, yielding 5.44/35 %.

Please note that Tuesday, May 1, is a public holiday in the Czech Republic
late April 27 bond yield late April 26
State 6.75/05104.35/655.44/35104.35/65
State 6.95/16105.50/806.36/33105.50/80

(Martin Kupka)

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