Polish Truck Companies Threaten To Blockade Refineries

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Polish Truck Companies Threaten To Blockade Refineries

WARSAW, Sep 13, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Poland's truck companies are considering following their colleagues in other European nations by blockading the country's oil refineries to protest rising fuel prices, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Representatives of about 20 regional truck transportation organizations are to meet Wednesday to decide on a further course of action, said Anna Wrona of the Association of Polish International Transporters (ZMPD).

The association groups together more than 4,000 companies with a fleet of nearly 200,000 trucks.

"The atmosphere is overheated," said Wrona.

"It may however calm down" because the main petrol (US: gasoline) retailer Polski Koncern Naftowy PKN/ORLEN has just announced a price cut, she said.

Poland imports nearly all of its crude oil, which is refined inside the country.

Fuel prices have risen sharply over the past several months, putting severe pressure on Polish farmers and truckers who use considerable amounts of diesel.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 13, 2000


Zloty Hit By Oil Worries, TPSA Flows Drying Up

WARSAW, Sep 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) The zloty tumbled on Tuesday, hammered by worries over inflationary effects of high oil prices and market talk that inflows from the privatization of telecoms TPSA were drying up, dealers said.

At 1550 GMT the zloty eased to 4.4725 to the dollar, having shed 0.6 percent since opening. It was at 3.85 to the euro, down 0.9 percent on the day.

Inflows from the USD 4.3 billion privatization have been slowly seeping through the forex market, pushing the zloty higher over the past month, but dealers now say the flows have slowed.


"TPSA inflows were supporting the zloty for quite a while, but now it seems that many players are thinking that most if not all of the flows have gone through the market," said Jacek Wisniewski, head of research at AmerBank in Warsaw.

Analysts said that since Polish interest rates, at 19 to 23 percent, are much higher than those in Western Europe, players traditionally kept long zloty positions, which if shortened, could spell more trouble for the zloty over the short-term.

"There is definitely more downside potential. Most players are naturally long-zloty and unless new foreign portfolio capital enters soon, we could see further weakening," said a dealer at a large foreign bank.

Analysts added the zloty also fell on fears that high fuel prices worldwide would hurt emerging market valuations by driving up inflation and destabilizing economic growth. Additionally, the zloty eased as a weak euro was seen hurting Poland's exports, two-thirds of which go to the European Union.

"I think the zloty's softening is largely related to the euro and to what's going on with oil prices," said Sonja Gibbs, currency strategist at Nomura International in London.

"At the moment inflation is so much in focus in Poland that higher energy prices are the last thing the economy needs," she added.

High fuel prices were seen as one of the main factors fuelling Poland's surging inflation, which hit a two-year high of 11.6 percent year-on-year in July.

In August inflation is expected to fall to 11.0 percent, according to a Reuters monthly poll. Official CPI data will be released on Friday.

Analysts said that high oil prices could also hurt the Polish economy indirectly if growing inflationary pressure forces up euro interest rates and slows economic growth.

"If an oil price shock causes slower growth in Europe, that obviously filters through to Poland," said Gibbs.

(C)2000 Copyright Reuters Limited

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 13, 2000.

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