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Thursday April 3, 2008 - 11:16:06 GMT
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European Market Update: Weak Euro-Zone Retail Sales Suggest Slowing Growth in Europe

European Market Update: Weak Euro-Zone Retail Sales Suggest Slowing Growth in Europe


· SP Mar Services PMI: 40.9 v 46.1 prior

· IT Mar Final Services PMI: 48.8 v 47.2e

· FR Mar Final Services PMI: 57.3 v 57.3e

· GE Mar Final Services PMI: 51.8 v 52.5e

· EU Mar Final Services PMI: 51.6 v 51.7e

· EU Mar Final Composite PMI: 51.8 v 51.9e

· UK Mar Services PMI: 52.1 v 53. 3e

· SP Mar Consumer Confidence: 73.1 v 76.8 prior

· NO Feb Retail Sales: M/M 1.7%v 0.6%e || Y/Y 5.6% v 4.4%e

· EU Feb Retail Sales: M/M -0.5% v 0.2%e || Prior revised from 0.4% to 0.5% |||| Y/Y -0.2% v 0.0%e || Prior revised from -0.1% to 0.2%


· GE Finance Min Steinbrueck says he expects the current financial market crisis to last until 2009 || Does not expect the crisis to turn into an economic one in German [Bild]

· UK One of London's largest hedge funds, Polygon, has introduced special measures to deal with the large number of investor redemption requests || The $8B fund yesterday held a conference call to reassure investors that they will not be stopped from redeeming their funds. [Telegraph]

· UK UK's largest mortgage lender, HBOS, has suggested that the number of housing transactions could fall as much as 30% in 2008 [Financial Times]

· EU Draft: Inflation to moderate in 2008, but upside risks remain || Must be sure that second round effects do not materialize || EU well placed to weather market turmoil || All major countries must act to resolve imbalances

· US Treasury's Paulson: China is monitoring US market conditions carefully || China is concerned at how sub-prime crisis to impact US and global economies || Biggest reform obstacle in China is domestic interests

· ECB Liebscher: Inflation to remain high for foreseeable future; must anchor inflationary expectations || Reiterates that ECB does not pre- commit on interest rates || Expects inflation to moderate by year- end

· BOE Credit Conditions Survey: UK Banks expect mortgage defaults to rise and demand to decline || Plan to curb mortgage loans in the next quarter || Plan further curbs in unsecured household loans || Expect wider mortgage spreads in the next quarter || Plan further curbs on loans to companies

· FR Finance Minister: ECB is listening to member states about forex, watching inflation closely || European housing market slow down is less obvious in France || Confident that French economic reforms will be buffer against a slowdown


· The European fixed income futures opened lower in the session but were able to make their way into positive territory after the European indices began to decline. Over in the
UK gilts are outperforming their European counterparts today. Fixed income futures gained some upside momentum from weak Euro-Zone retail sales data for February, as well as the announcement of further writedowns for state- owned German bank BayernLB. A slight steepening has set in across the European yield curves following the data. According to an EU Draft report released on the wires overnight, inflation is seen moderating in the Euro- Zone in 2008, but risks are thought to remain to the upside. The report added that second round effects must not materialize. In new supply overnight Spain sold €1.079B in 4.10% April 2011 BONOs with an average yield of 3.903% and a bid-to-cover of 2.18x, as well as €981M in 6.15% Jan 2013 BONOs with an average yield of 3.958% and a bid-to-cover of 1.84x. France sold €5.145B in new 4.00% April 2018 OATs with an average yield of 4. 24% and a bid-to-cover of x. The cover compares to the 3.22x at the last auction of the old issue. The DMO sold £3.75B in 4.75% June 2010 gilts with an average yield of 4.015% and a bid-to-cover of 2.63x. The auction had a 0. 5bps yield tail, and a 1 tick price tail.

· The European indices are currently trading in negative territory in the session. In equity news overnight there were rumors circulating that perhaps Lufthansa was planning a bid for Alitalia, however Lufthansa later denied those rumors. Elsewhere state-owned German bank Bayern LB announced that it had a €2.0B writedown in the first-quarter due to sub-prime. The bank added that it expects €1.2B in ABS default for Q1, and noted that it sees further writedowns in 2008. In sector rotation overnight Lehman cut the
UK real estate sector to neutral from positive, which weighed down on the sector's components at the open. Credit Suisse raised its rating on the European automakers to a market weight rating. Goldman Sachs cut its average earnings estimates for UK banks in 2008 by 8% overnight as well. Looking ahead, earnings results from US notables Acuity Brands, CSK Auto, Restoration Hardware, and Constellation Brands are due in the US pre-market today.

· Energy markets were relatively quite overnight. Front month crude futures are currently in negative territory and are hanging around the $104-handle. Oil futures gained downside momentum from weaker Euro-Zone retail sales, which suggest a slowing economy re-igniting fears that slower growth could lead to weaker demand. In energy-related news overnight, an Exxon spokesperson noted that the company plans to sell its 45% stake ni the Jotun oil field in
Norway. According to Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazilian regulators may try to propose new oil regulations this year. Regulations reportedly plan to boost the government's revenue share from exploration, which could impact Petroleo Brasileiro. The metals are trading lower as well, with front month copper trading lower on the back of rising Shanghai inventories, while spot gold is lower on the back of a stronger US Dollar.

· The EUR/USD came off its Asian highs after an EU draft report noted that Euro-Zone inflation is likely to moderate later in 2008. The report added that upside risks remain. The French Finance Minister added some expected verbal intervention after she pointed out that the ECB is listening to member states about forex and is watching inflation closely. The EUR/USD broke below the 1.56-level after weaker than expected retail sales data for the Euro-Zone. The EUR/JPY encountered some selling pressures above the 161-level as Japanese exporters took advantage of the recent climb in the pair. Dealers noted that fresh Toshins issues have pushed the JPY lower since the start of the month.

· The British Pound was broadly weaker following the March PMI data and BOE credit conditions report. The GBP/USD fell over a big figure from the highs seen during
Asia and, tested 1.9760-level. EUR/GBP retested above the 0.79-level before retreating on weak Euro-zone retail sales data and GBP/JPY probed below the 203-level


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