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Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Zloty and Polish Inflation 2007

The Polish zloty continues to rise against the euro on speculation the Polish central bank will keep raising interest rates to stem accelerating inflation. Poland's zloty rose against the euro again today after central bank monetary policy council member Jan Czekaj said it's ``more likely'' interest rates will be raised further to curb an expected acceleration in inflation. Czekaj's comments, made in an interview broadcast by TVN CNBC Biznes today, came after the finance ministry said inflation probably accelerated in December to 4 percent. Against the euro, the zloty rose to 3.6048 by 5:02 p.m. in Warsaw, from 3.6153 late yesterday. Poland's currency gained 6.1 percent versus its European counterpart last year, its biggest advance since 2005, as policy makers lifted borrowing costs during the year by 2 percentage points to 5 percent.

The Polish central bank kept its key rate unchanged at its last meeting on Dec. 19 after lifting the benchmark seven-day reference rate by a quarter of a percentage point four times earlier in the year.

The cost of manufactured goods in Poland's $339 billion economy rose an annual 2.6 percent in November, compared with 2 percent the month before, a government report showed last week, while net core inflation accelerated to 1.5 percent from 1.4 percent.

Polish central bank monetary policy council member Dariusz Filar said recently that he expects inflation to accelerate in 2008, and that it won't come close to the bank's mid-range target of 2.5 percent until in the first half of 2009, fueling speculation that policy makers will raise interest rates as early as next month.

"I fear that we have a period of rising inflation before us" he said in an interview with the Gazeta Prawna daily. The inflation rate may "find itself in the region of 4 percent" in the first quarter of next year, he said.

The inflation rate rose to 3.6 percent in November, above the bank's target range of 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

According to Filar, the economy may expand at ``around 5 to 6 percent'' in 2008, slowing from a projected 6.5 percent this year. Turbulence on the world markets will have little effect on Polish economic growth as it is ``mainly driven by internal demand,'' he said. We will see, although one thing is for sure, internal demand in Poland, and in particular construction demand are the key.

Wages, a major driver of consumption, grew an annual 12 percent in November. Earnings have been bolstered by an economy that has grown at 6 percent or more for seven quarters, and unemployment at its lowest in nine years.

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