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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Polands Central Bank Holds Interest Rate Steady In July

Poland's central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged today as the economy slows and it anticipates inflation falling back. The Narodowy Bank Polski left the seven-day reference rate unchanged at 6 percent, after previously raising it four times this year.

The Monetary Policy Council has been struggling for nine months to bring down the inflation rate, at a four-year high of 4.6 percent in June, to its 2.5 percent target. Slower-than expected employment growth, retail sales and industrial output in June indicate the economy is losing steam and the central bank said this may damp inflation. Annual wage growth in Poland's corporate sector accelerated to 12.0% in June, above forecasts and up from a 10.5% rise in May. On the month,average wages were up 4.8%, following a 2.2% monthly decline in May. Total employment at firms with more than nine employees was running at 5.39 million in June, up 4.8% on the year. That annual rise was below the February peak of 5.9%, and suggests job creation in Poland is now starting to slow.

The economy expanded an annual 6.1 percent in the first quarter, down from 7.3 percent at the beginning of last year and 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

The 10.8 percent rise of the zloty against the euro, which has converted the zloty into the world's second-best performing emerging market currency this year, has also helped keep inflation in check. The June inflation rate of 4.6 percent was driven mainly by a 3.3 percent monthly gain and an annual 7.5 percent advance in fuel prices, which policy makers cannot control.

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