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Wednesday March 19, 2008 - 11:16:10 GMT
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European Market Update: BOE Voted 7-2 to Hold Rates in March

European Market Update: BOE Voted 7-2 to Hold Rates in March


· IT Jan Industrial Orders: M/M 2.6% v 1.3%e || Prior revised from -5.4% to -5.6% |||| Y/Y 6.9% to 5.0%e

· IT Jan Industrial Sales: M/M 4.6% v 1.1%e || Prior revised form -2.7% to -2.6% |||| Y/Y 6.1% v 4.5%e

· UK Feb Claimant Count Rate: 2.5% v 2.5%e

· UK Feb Jobless Claims Change: -2. 8K v -5.0Ke || Prior revised from -10.8K to -9.1K

· UK Jan Average Earnings Including Bonus: 3.7% v 3.8%e

· UK Jan Average Earnings Excluding Bonus: 3.7% v 3.8%e

· UK Jan ILO Unemployment Rate: 5.2% v 5.2%e

· UK BOE Minutes Show Vote of 7-2 to hold rates at March 6th policy-setting meeting vs. market consensus of 8-1 vote.


· BOE Minutes: BOE Minutes: Gieve, Blanchflower wanted cut in rates to 5.0% || BOE Majority: 'roughly on track' for CPI back to target in the medium-term || BOE Majority: Successive cuts could exaggerate market response || BOE Minority: US economic prospects had deteriorated || BOE Minority: Does not see second round effects from energy prices; Policy stance may still be on the restrictive side


· The European fixed income futures opened lower in the session following comments from the ECB's Weber published in the Handelsblatt Newspaper late yesterday. Weber reiterated the ECB mantra that price stability is the Central Bank's number one priority. Bonds gained upside momentum early on during the session on the back chatter that a UK bank was in trouble. The chatter, which has been circulating for the past few days, coincides with a series of engagement cancellations by European central bankers, adding to speculation that something is amiss. HBOS share declined sharply and were eventually suspended on limit down, however shares later retraced some of their losses after a spokesperson laid waste to the rumors. Similarly, a Bank of England spokesperson said that talk that the BOE is canceling its Easter break is absolute rubbish. Long-gilt futures posted a small gain following the BOE minute from the March 6th policy setting meeting. Minutes showed a vote of 7-2 with both Gieve and Blanchflower dissenting in favor of a 25bps rate cut. The market consensus was for a vote of 8-1. The BOE majority said that CPI is roughly on track to move back to its target in the medium-term, while the minority argued that the BOE's policy stance may be on the restrictive side in light of further deterioration in the
US economic outlook. The next policy-setting meeting is scheduled for April 10. The market consensus is for the BOE to leave rates unchanged at 5.25%, however a recent survey of 31 economists showed that at least 6 expect a 25bps rate cut. In other news the Bundesrepublik Deutschland Finanzagentur announced its auction schedule. The Finanzagentur will sell an extra €7.0B in 3.00% 2-year schatz on April 16; an extra €5.0B in 5-year bond on May 7; €7.0B in a new 10-year bund on May 28; and €8.0B in a new 2-year schatz on June 11.

· The European indices are currently in negative territory in the session after a positive open. The indices declined on the back of continued speculation that a major UK bank was in trouble. Chatter was focused around HBOS, but rumors became rumors laid waste following comments from an HBOS spokesperson. Despite this there is still some speculation that the BOE will make an announcement about HBOS or perhaps another notable bank in the
UK later this morning. Share of Air Italia are sharply lower today after Spinetta Newspaper cited an Air France spokesperson noting that the deal between the two airlines is at risk. Elsewhere shares of Societe Generale are trading lower after BNP Paribas said that it will not seek a merger with the company. Sony Ericsson said overnight that first-quarter sales are expected to post a y/y decline in 2008, while gross margins are expected to be relatively stable. Ericsson said that moderating sales growth is impacting pretax, while a component shortage is hurting earnings. EasyJet said overnight that they see their second half results, and full-year pretax below their previously issued guidance if current fuel prices persist. UBS and Panmure promptly cut their ratings on EazyJet following the announcement. Following good earnings results from Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers yesterday, earnings results are due from Morgan Stanley during the US pre-market today. Morgan Stanley is expected to report earnings of $1.03 on revenue of $7.18B. Ross Stores, General Mills, and Charming Shoppes are also expected to report this morning.

· On the commodity front spot gold has been slowly creeping back towards the $1000-handle, riding a wave of safe haven flows on renewed market chatter of trouble in the
UK banking sector. Following declines in the European equity markets copper futures have made their way into positive territory, however gains have been modest. Front month crude oil futures are currently trading in negative territory in the session, but are not far off from the $110-handle. Inventories data due out later today is expected to show a 2.3M barrel rise in crude inventories, a 1.55M barrel decline in distillate inventories, and a 400K barrel decline in gasoline inventories.

· Risk aversion remains the main trading theme today despite the FED's policy action yesterday as well as better-than-expected corporate earnings from
US brokerage firms Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. The JPY rebounded from Tuesday's losses to regain some upside momentum. The EUR/JPY is at 154.90 after testing 156.60 in Asia, while the USD/JPY is at 98.3 after testing parity earlier and GBP/JPY off 350 pips at 197-level. Comments from China's PBoC noting that the US dollar is likely to continue to depreciate during the remainder of the first half of 2008 before a possible retracement later in the year against the major currencies. The EUR/USD tested up to 1.5785 in the aftermath of the Chinese comments. The GBP is broadly weaker as numerous UK banks have been mention as having ''liquidity issues''. The GBP/USD tested below the 2.0-level during the course of the European morning.

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