UPDATE 1-PKN posts Q4 net loss on writedowns, sees margins fall
* Q4 net loss 276 mln zlotys * Loss due to writedown at Czech unit * Sees margins down in January (Adds detail, background) WARSAW, Jan 23 (Reuters) - PKN Orlen, Poland's top refiner, has swung to a 276 million zloty ($88 million) fourth-quarter net loss, hit by a writedown at Czech unit Unipetrol. The state-controlled refiner also said on Wednesday margins continued to shrink, with its joint model refining margin and Ural/Brent crude price differential down to $2.9 per barrel this month. Refiners across Europe are seeing margins squeezed as a slowdown in demand because a faltering economy has left the industry with excess capacity. PKN's sales in Poland were down because of a drop in fuel consumption, partly offset by an increase in volumes in Czech and German markets. PKN had said it would post an operating loss of over 700 million after a 4.5 billion Czech crown ($233 million) impairment charge to reflect the drop in asset values and an intention to sell some of those assets. On Wednesday, the company said it made a fourth-quarter operating loss of 738 million zlotys. Before last week's trading statement, analysts had expected PKN Orlen to post a net profit of 350 million zlotys. The group earned 619 million zlotys in the 2011 period. ($1 = 3.1406 zlotys = 19.2725 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Dan Lalor)
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