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Thursday March 6, 2008 - 12:54:24 GMT
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FX Blog- TTN European Market Update

European Market Update: Markets Quiet Ahead of Rate Decisions


· SZ Feb Unemployment Rate: 2.7% v 2.8%e

· SZ Feb Unemployment Rate sa: 2.5% v 2.5%e

· FR Q4 ILO Unemployment Rate: 7.8% v 8.2%e || Prior revised from 8.3% to 8.2%

· FR Q4 ILO Mainland Unemployment Rate: 7.5% v 7. 7%e || Prior revised from 7.9% to 7.8%

· FR Q4 Mainland Unemployment Change: -104K v -35Ke || Prior revised from -57K to -73K

· FR Jan Central Government Balance: -€6.6B v -€38.4B prior

· UK Feb Halifax House Prices: M/M -0.3% v -0.2%e || Y/Y 4.2% v 4.2%e

· NV Feb CPI: M/M 0.7% v 0.5%e || Y/Y 2.2% v 2.1%e

· GE Jan Factory Orders: M/M - 1.5% v -0.4%e || Prior revised from -1.7% to -1.1% |||| Y/Y 9.5% v 9.9%e || Prior revised from 5.6% to 6.2%


· BOE''s Barker: The biggest risk is around interplay between the property market and the financial sector || If credit tightening is more severe than forecast it could prompt more declines in house prices || The extension of present difficulties in funding markets could restrict mortgage lending

· EU''s Verheugen: Strong Euro makes some export sales difficult || Euro exchange rate is a problem for certain industries

· EU Unions call for an urgent ECB interest rate cut today || Euro FX rise is becoming alarming || Euro above $1.50 is alarming || Firms would welcome a rate cut, but are also worried about inflation

· Fed''s Pianalto: Economy is vulnerable to a credit crunch || "Our policy actions have been aggressive" || Said the possibility of a credit contraction has caused her to lower her economic growth forecast || "The current economic environment is exceptionally fluid, and the economy faces some substantial risks. || Sees downside risks to economic forecast || Does not expect a recession || Market trouble will take time to dissipate || Consumption will weaken

· Fed Watcher Greg Ip: The Fed will probably give serious consideration to the fact that futures markets put high odds on at least a half-percentage-point rate cut at the March policy meeting || Notes that inflation concerns are not likely to be an obstacle to further rate cuts || The debate when the Fed meets in March is likely to be over how much the Fed will cut rates [WSJ]


· European fixed income futures are trading higher in the session on the back of weaker equities. Interest rate decisions are due from both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank later today. Swap spreads are higher in Europe, while there has been a general steepening across the European yield curves with the greatest steepening seen in Germany and the UK. The ECB is widely expected to hold rates at 4. 00%. Despite this the EU Unions Group called for an urgent ECB interest rate cut today, noting that the rise in the Euro RX rate is becoming alarming. The post rate announcement press conference hosted by the ECB''s Trichet is likely to be the main focus in Europe during that later part of the session. The BOE is also expected to keep rates on hold at today''s meeting. Regarding today''s decision, the Times MPC said that the BOE should keep rates on hold to quell persistent inflationary pressures, however 3 members said that an immediate quarter-point cut was needed to help the economy. In new supply overnight France sold €2.53 in 3.00% October 2015 OATs with an average yield of 3.84% and a bid-to-cover of 1. 197x, as well as €1.39 in 4.25% October 2017 OATs with an average yield of 4.07% and a bid-to-cover of 2.527x, and €1.09B in 4.00% October 2038 OATs with an average yield of 4.68% and a bid-to-cover of 2.532x. In the US market participants are currently await the release of Friday''s jobs data, which is expected to be one of the highlights of this week. Fed watcher Greg Ip said in his latest Wall Street Journal article that the Fed will probably give serious consideration to the fact that futures markets put high odds on at least a half-percentage-point rate cut at the March policy meeting.

· The European indices are trading lower across the board as uncertainty for the mono-line insurers continues to spook the market following a 19% decline in shares of Ambac yesterday. The insurance sector and the financial services sector are leading Europe lower today along with the technology, telecommunications, and travel & leisure sectors, all of which are sharply lower. In equity news overnight shares of UBS opened lower after an analyst at JP Morgan speculated that the bank may not pay a dividend in 2008, and boosted the estimated writedown for UBS by CHF3.5B to CHF18.5B. The bank was also lower on continued speculation that it sold its alt-a mortgage portfolio in a “fire sale”. Elsewhere Deutsche Post reported a 61% decline in profit for the fourth quarter following a writedown of US asset values at its DHL Express unit. In Amsterdam Ahold beat out analyst net profit estimates for the fourth quarter. Ahold also forecasted that its operating margin will be as high as 5.0% in 2008, up from the 4.6% seen in 2007. In France shares of Natixis, the country''s fourth largest bank, were sharply lower overnight after the bank posted in €900M in US sub-prime related writedowns for the fourth-quarter. Share of Carrefour traded higher overnight after the company''s 2007 net profit result edged out market expectations. Carrefour guided sales growth of 6%-8% for 2008. Looking ahead to the US pre-market, amid today''s same store sales data, big hitter Blockbuster is due to report earnings, along with Joy Global, and cult stock Solarfun Power Holdings.

· The USD continues to set fresh all- time lows against the EUR and CHF pairs as commodity prices continue to move higher. The EUR/USD tested the 1.5348-level, while the USD/CHF broke below the 1.03-handle. Carry related currencies are fimer on risk aversion themes. The JPY is modestly firmer as equity markets seem to be a bit disappointed over the Ambac rescue package. There were more cautious comments about banks and brokers exposure to credit writedowns overnight, which helped the CHF firm up. Despite continuing displeasure over EUR appreciation from Euro-Zone officials, the ECB is expected to hold their interest rates steady at their policy meeting later today. FX dealers will be focusing on the central bank''s staff projections and post-decision comments from ECB chief Trichet.

· On the commodity front crude oil futures have been hovering between the $104 and $105 handles overnight. In energy news Iraq is talking with various oil companies about managing the development of five new oil fields in the country''s southern and northern regions. The companies engaged in talks could be Chevron, Exxon, Shell and Total. Of note elsewhere overnight was word of a small explosion outside of the Army recruiting station in New York''s Times Square. Local news sources confirmed the story, however the details have not yet been disclosed. There were no reported injuries. Elsewhere in the commodity market copper futures rose to a record high during European trading despite the worsening economic outlook in the US. Spot gold continues to creep towards the $1000- handle as the dollar continues to depreciate. UK based industrial Kazakhmys reported results overnight, noting with its report that the long-term outlook for metals is positive. Following the recent all-time highs along demand related factors, some analysts are speculating that copper prices could post a rise of 10% or more in 2008.


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