The Czech crown has reached an all-time high against the common European currency, trading at 27.96 to the euro on Friday morning. Analysts put the gain down to upbeat sentiment about news of a high foreign trade surplus and a favourable situation on emerging markets. The crown is also strong against the US dollar - on Wednesday it traded at 21.78, a heller short of its all-time record.
Around half of the country's chain stores now accept euros while others are planning to allow customers to pay in the currency, Lidove noviny reports. However, payments in euros still only account for one or two percent of revenues. Predictably, most purchases are made using euros in Prague and border areas. The Czech Republic is officially planning to introduce the currency in 2010.
RWE Transgas has been hit with a record fine from the Czech anti-monopoly office (UOHS). The company has been fined 370 million CZK (almost 17 m USD) for abusing its dominant position on the Czech market, of which it controls more than 80 percent.
The number of new flats being built in the Czech Republic is rising fast. Home starts were up 14.2 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2005, the Czech Statistical Office said on Thursday. It put the sharp growth down to more attractive mortgage conditions, relatively high interest rates on home savings, state support for first time buyer young couples and fears that prices will increase in 2008, when construction work enters a higher VAT bracket.
The building boom has attracted the world's biggest glass maker to the Czech Republic. AGC Glass has announced plans to build a large new glass factory in Teplice, north Bohemia. A company spokesperson said they expected demand for glass in the region to rise by around 8 percent in the next few years.
This year's grain harvest in the Czech Republic will be 9.6 percent lower than in 2005, predicts the Czech Statistical Office. It blames the decline on the long period of hot and dry weather in July and lower areas planted with grain. But the country's Agricultural Chamber says it expects even worse results, with recent heavy rains damaging crops.
We seem to be forever hearing about big car makers being the motor of the Czech economy. But not all manufacturers here are multinational giants. The family-owned company Kaipan has just unveiled its newest model, the Kaipan 14, which is a two-seater sports convertible. The price is 457,000 CZK (almost 21,000 USD) but you'll have to travel go the Kaipan factory in the small north Bohemian town of Smzovka to pick one up.
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events