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Czech Watch - 6 April 2001

6.4.2001 9:45

The regular ČNB Board meeting did not change the bank’s key interest rates.

Construction output soared 16 % year-on-year in February, after a January jump of o 12,4%. After adjustment for a different number of workdays, the February increase was even higher, +17.5%. Labor productivity in construction rose 15.4%, while the average real wage increased just 2.3%. Higher orders for large construction companies (with 1000+ employees), corresponding i.a. to acceleration of infrastructure investment (like railway corridors), contributed to a surprising construction boom in the recent months. Our forecast of the real growth of construction output in 2001 is +8.0 %.

Most Czech families (53 %) declare their average monthly per capita income less or equal CZK 6000 (USD 170), according to a March survey by CVVM. The minimum wage after taxation in the Czech republic amounts to CZK 4184 (USD 110) and is 11 % above the official living minimum standard for an independent adult. 5 % of families must live with less than CZK 3000 p.c., 8 %, in contrast, enjoy monthly average p.c. income higher than CZK 11000. Also by CVVM, 61 % of adult Czechs consider their living standards good. Above-average satisfaction show, for instance, entrepreneurs (93 %), graduates (86 %), or ODS voters (84 %).

Czech telecom issues, boosted by a surge in the Nasdaq, recovered on Thursday considerably. Český Telecom soared 8.6 % and České radiokomunikace jumped up 5.3 %. Also Komerční banka and ČEZ joined the rising trend (+5.9 % and +3.1 %, respectively). "Today it finally looked bullish, but buyers were not aggressive. It is still far from being over and we could see further selling if U.S. markets turn down again overnight," quoted Reuters Patria Finance dealer Petr Zajíc said. The PX50 index gained 1.95 %. Turnover on the key SPAD system rose to a heavy USD 18.9m.

The Czech crown, driven by EUR/USD rate, fluctuated in a narrow range of 34.58-72 to the euro before ending the day flat against late Wednesday levels. Late on Thursday, CZK was steady at 34.63/64 to EUR from 34.64/65 late Wednesday. CZK/USD dipped to 38.62/63 from 38.45/46 late Wednesday. Dealers see a short-term range of 34.55-75 CZK/EUR. Some dealers predict that unless EUR/USD raises sharply, the crown should continue strengthening.

Selling mood prevailed on the bond market and prices moved down. The longest state 6.95/16 dipped 70bps to 107.00/30, yielding 6.21/18 % from 6.14/11 % late on Wednesday. The state 6.75/05 lost 35bps to 104.35/65, yielding 5.46/38. Taking into account negative market sentiment, downward price trend hardly changes today. A trend reversal could happen as soon as next week, provided that the Czech CPI inflation in March would be low and ECB would cut its interest rates at the next meeting scheduled for April 12.

late April 5 bond yield late April 4
State 6.75/05104.35/655.46/38104.70/00/td>
State 6.95/16107.00/306.21/18107.70/00

(Martin Kupka)

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