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Tuesday February 12, 2008 - 12:24:53 GMT
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Forex - European Market Update: UK Inflation Data Lower: German Sentiment Data Higher


· *** ECONOMIC DATA ***

· UK Jan BRC SSS: 2.6% v 0.3% prior

· UK Jan BRC Total Sales: 4.9% v 2.3% prior

· FR Dec Current Account: -€2. 7B v -€3.6B prior

· SW Jan AMS Unemployment Rate: 3.5% v 3. 6%e

· UK Jan CPI: M/M -0.7% v -0.6%e || Y/Y 2.2% v 2.3%e || Core 1. 3% v 1.5%e

· UK Jan RPI: M/M -0.5% v -0.5%e || Y/Y 4.1% v 4.1%e || RPI Ex-Mortgage: 3.4% v 3.3%e

· UK Jan Retail Price Index: 209.8 v 209.9e

· GE Feb ZEW Economic Sentiment: -39.5 v -45.0e

· GE Feb ZEW Current Situation: 33.7 v 50.0e

· EU Feb ZEW Economic Sentiment: -41.4 v -43.0e

· *** SPEAKERS/COMMENTS ***

· GE According to a key politician in the German coalition government, BayernLB needs to record writedowns of up to €2.5B v the prior estimates of €100M - Leipziger Volkszeiting

· EU Presidency Finance Minister: Euro-Zone inflation is a problem || Growth is slowing to below its potential

· GE Finance Minister: German inflation seen slowing due to base effects || Says inflationary effects from 2007 VAT increase will disappear later in 2008 || Says Euro Zone is facing a slowdown, not recession

· FR State Secretary Jouyet: Global and US imbalances are weighing on Euro || The ECB has shown Europe that it is willing to act but the US'' will to cooperate is lacking || Says US is not ready for change in G7 language

· Zew Economist: Expectations point to a cautious recovery from mid-2008 || Fiscal impulses not needed to stimulate economy || Looser monetary policy seen helping economic recovery || Exporters see improvement over the next 6 months || Expects an ECB rate cut

· *** FIXED INCOME/FX/COMMODITIES/ERRATUM ***

· The European fixed income futures are currently trading lower in the session with the short end outperforming the long end. The 2/10-year spread in Germany widened to 83bps overnight, the widest spread since December of 2005. In the swaps the 2/10-year spread is around the 60bps-level and is hovering around its highest level since May of 2006. The 2/10-year spreads are widening as concerns over the near-term inflationary outlook in the Euro-Zone are causing weakness in the long-end of the curve. Similarly, the Italian 2/10- year spread is at its widest level since November 2005, while the 2/10-year swap spread is at its widest level since June 2006. While there was no new supply overnight some details emerged about the new Spanish 10-year bond. According to source reports on the wires the new 10-year is fixed at +28bps vs. the 10-year bund, with the size expected at €5.0B. Note that the current spread between the Spanish and German 10-year bonds is around 21. 7bps, and has averaged 17.3bps over the past year. There are auctions in Germany and Italy tomorrow. Over in the UK long-gilt futures are in negative territory as they have been for most of the session. Long-gilts did however make a brief, but aggressive drive into positive territory following weaker-than-expected readings on the UK CPI and RPI data for the month of January. The June short-sterling contract also posted a sharp rise following the data release, moving back to the upper end of its range over the past two weeks. Looking at the yields in the UK, the 2/10-year gilt spread continues to climb after having been inverse for around one year, and reached 36bps overnight, its highest level since March of 2004. The 2/10-year swap spread reached its highest level since November of 2005 overnight.

· On the commodity front crude oil futures continue to maintain position above the $93-handle, however there has been some profit taking since crude broke the $94-handle yesterday. Oil appears to be stable at the moment as traders await tomorrow''s stockpiles data, which is expected to show a fifth consecutive increase in both crude and gasoline stockpiles. Elsewhere fold remains with in its recent range, and currently sits above the $920-handle. Gold has recently gained some support from both silver and platinum, as silver continues to push new 27-year highs, and platinum continues to push new all time highs. The recent bout of power outages in South Africa has also played a role here, elevating some of the precious metals prices on supply concerns.

· The USD remains in a consolidation range against the European currencies, but risk aversion chatter remains prevalent. The EUR/USD is maintaining a 1.4480 to 1.4580- range, while the USD/CHF continues its 1.0950 to 1.1100-holding pattern. The GBP was generally softer following the release of January CPI and RPI data. The headline numbers were below expectations, but dealers noted that the Y/Y RPI-X helped to offset the headline euphoria. The GBP/USD is at 1. 9450, while the EUR/GBP is at 0.7455. Dealer chatter continues to remain fixated on risk aversion. The iTraxx Crossover remains at historic elevated levels of 570+bps. The ING writedown rumor was making the rounds today, speculating about a possible €6B to €8B write down circulating. The ZEW survey helped to erode the USD gains from the session

· The European equity indices started strong, followed a downward path at the open, and then bounced back off of the unchanged level. Strong earnings from both Sanofi Aventis pushed shares up at the open, while shares of Credit Suisse declined after the company''s fourth-quarter net fell shy of estimates. Elsewhere BHP Billiton sent a letter to its shareholders regarding its Rio Tinto bid says that that combination would be a unique opportunity without comparison. Also on the M&A front overnight the Financial Times reported that Xstrata has rejected the $76B informal bid from Cia Vale do Rio. Xstrata shares are trading lower during the European session, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto shares are trading higher. Risk aversion continued to play a role in the European market place on the back of rumors circulating about a possible €6B-€8B writedown at German bank IKB. A report in German newspaper Handelsblatt claiming that the German government will help to rescue IKB seemed to allay market fears. Looking ahead, ahead of the market open in the US focus will be on earnings results from Dow component General Motors, as well as Coca-Cola Enterprises, Qwest Communications, and Schering Plough.

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