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Czech Watch - 3 April 2001

3.4.2001 9:45

Czech central state budget showed a surplus of CZK 2.4bn for Jan-Mar following a surplus of CZK 3.3bn for Jan-Feb. Last year, first quarter’s budget balance was CZK +8.4bn. Full 2001 budget deficit is planned at CZK 49bn (incl. estimated 2000 loss of Konsolidační banka of CZK 18.8bn), while overall state finances will show a gap of around CZK 190bn. First quarter’s deficit stayed below the proportional CZK 12.2bn owing to the fact that the gap between planned and actual revenues was smaller than the gap between planned and actual expenditures. Because of changes in methodology, year-on-year comparison of the budget results has a limited explanatory power.

The European Commission believes that also the Czech cattle are likely to be infected with mad cow disease (BSE). Albania, Cyprus, Estonia, the Slovak Republic, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland were classed "category III", meaning "likely to present a BSE risk, even if not confirmed, or presenting a low level of confirmed BSE risk". According to the EC, the countries in category III had imported significant amounts of live cattle and meat and bonemeal from EU countries where BSE has been confirmed. All countries not being in "category I" (BSE highly unlikely) have to remove potentially dangerous cattle tissues at the slaughterhouse from meat they intend to export to the EU.

In May, the Czech cabinet will discuss a new version of an amendment to the Bank Act. The Lower Chamber of the Parliament rejected the previous version last year. The amended law should become effective in January 2002. The amendment changes the way commercial banks pay their contributions to the Deposit insurance fund, raises the ceiling for insured deposits up to EUR 15t and extends deposit insurance on foreign deposits and other banking products. The amendment does not address the controversial issue of existing anonymous deposits.

1.8m adult Czechs, or 22 % of the adult population, declared themselves Internet users in February, according to a survey by Deloitte and Touche and Markent. Compared to last September, the growth rate is 23 %. 78 % of the adults had no experience with the Internet in February. Among the Internet users, more than 40 % use the Net more than once a week.

The Czech crown first strengthened but later lost on Monday, pulled down by a stronger EUR and negative mood on emerging markets. CZK closed local trading at 34.59/63 to the EUR from 34.70/73 late on Friday. The early gains had come as some long EUR positions were closed out. Late on Monday the CZK weakened against USD to 39.24/27 from 39.19/21 late on Friday.

After prices fell on Friday, bonds became attractive again for investors on Monday, namely for those buying longer state bonds. Within this segment, prices went up 30-40bps early in the day. But also corporate bonds upped.

late April 2 bond yield late March 30
State 6.75/05104.40/705.45/37104.07/37
State 6.95/16106.85/156.23/20106.40/70

(Martin Kupka)

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