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Wednesday April 9, 2008 - 11:09:40 GMT
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European Market Update: UK Industrial and Manufacturing Data Beats Estimates Ahead of Tomorrow's Rate Decision

European Market Update: UK Industrial and Manufacturing Data Beats Estimates Ahead of Tomorrow's Rate Decision


· GE Feb Trade Balance: €16.9B v €15. 7Be

· GE Feb Current Account: €15.4Bv €13.1Be || Prior revised from €15.0B to €14.7B

· GE Feb Imports: -0.8% v -0.8%e || Prior revised from 4.2% to 4.0%

· GE Feb Exports: 0.0% v 0.3%e || Prior revised from 3.8% to 3.6%

· UK Feb Industrial Production: M/M 0.3% v 0.1%e || Y/Y 1.3% v 1.2%e

· UK Feb Manufacturing Production: M/M 0.4% v 0. 0%e || Prior revised from 0.4% to 0.5% |||| Y/Y 1.9% v 1.5%e || Prior revised from 0.6% to 0.7%

· EU Q4 Final GDP: Q/Q 0.4% v 0.4%e || Y/Y 2.2% v 2.2%e

· EU Q4 Final Gross Fixed Capital Formation: 0.8% v 0. 8%e

· EU Q4 Final Government Expenditures: -0.1% v -0. 1%e

· EU Q4 Final Household Consumption: -0.1% v -0.1%e


· UK Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lawson: BOE can afford to make further rate cuts || BOE needs to cut rates by 25bps to boost confidence || BOE should maintain its inflation focus || Recession will be gentle and more prolonged || It is likely that a further, small interest rate cut will come


· Front month crude oil futures are currently trading in positive territory after moving lower during early European trading on global recession fears after UBS cut its earnings guidance after the close last night. Citgo's Corpus Christi refinery (157K bpd) disclosed an upset at a sulfur unit. The problem occurred during the restart of the plant. The Financial Times commented on Colombia's oil reserves, noting that Colombia's heavy oil area could hold 20B barrels of recoverable resources. Further more the article noted that the Colombian government is looking to raise oil production to 1M barrels/day in the next 10 yrs from the current level of 550K/bpd. Japan's Nippon Oil said that it expects to suspend crude refining at its 60K bpd Toyama refinery by March 2009. On the commodity front, a Rio Tinto spokesperson said overnight that a US slowdown would have less of an impact on commodities than in the past, adding that commodity prices may move higher. Furthermore the spokesperson said that 4% y/y copper demand growth may last a generation. Gold, silver, and copper are currently trading lower in the session.

· The European indices opened lower in the session prompted by declines in Asia after UPS cut its earnings forecast following the close in the US. Amongst the declines in Europe the telecommunications sector has outperformed. According to the Times, Dow component Boeing is expected to announce that its 787 Dreamliner has been delayed by 18 months. Delays are expected to cost the company billions of Dollars as was the case when Airbus delayed the A380 in 2006. The Financial Times ran an article saying that Citigroup is closing in on a deal to sell $12B in leveraged loans at a discount to a group of leading private equity firms including the Blackstone Group, TPG, and Apollo Group. According to the article, the loans are expected to be sold at an average price of slightly below $0.90 on the Dollar. In Germany, although not tradable, it is worth mentioning that the relatively small German bank known as Weserbank has been order to stop trading by the German watchdog after becoming over-indebted. The bank had total assets of approximately €120M at the end of 2007. Shares of TNT were lower overnight after wages talks with unions broke down. Elsewhere Lehman forecasted that UBS' second-quarter net profit could be close to zero. In Germany Conergy reported results that fell just below the market consensus. Looking ahead to the US pre-market, earnings are expected from US notables Circuit City, Progressive Corp., and Shaw Group.

· In Europe, the German trade balance unexpectedly widened in February seeming to indicate that record Euro levels have not impacted activity in the German marketplace, however some analysts have argued that volatility in the economic data has not yet allowed the impact of Euro strength and the financial market turmoil to show itself. Government bonds opened higher in the session, and posted further gains after the equity markets opened lower. Long gilt futures in the UK took a slight hit following stronger than expected industrial and manufacturing production data for the month of February, and continued to follow a downward trend thereafter, but have been able to maintain their position in positive territory. As expected, there were no revisions to the final fourth-quarter GDP readings in the Euro-Zone overnight, which came in at 0.4% Q/Q, and 2.2% Y/Y. Two and ten-year European government bond spreads have widened against Germany overnight. Overall the European yield curves are relatively flat, but have a steepening bias. Swap spreads have risen from closing levels seen yesterday, while interest rate futures seem are pricing in greater expectations of lower rates along their respective curves. There was no new supply in the Euro-Zone or the UK overnight, however source reports indicated that Italy will sell its new 15-year bond at +16bps vs. the 3.75% August 2021 BTP. Looking ahead, with little activity scheduled in the US today focus for the European government bonds and fixed income futures alike will rest upon the ECB, BOE, and to a much lesser degree Sedlabanki interest rate decisions scheduled tomorrow. Most expect that the ECB will do more of the same… namely the ECB is expected to hold rates, while the ECB's Trichet will reiterate once again the ECB's price stability mantra. The BOE decision could be interesting. While the general consensus is for a 25bps rate cut, there have been calls for a 50bps rate cut, especially in the wake of yesterday's Halifax house prices, which posted their biggest slide in 16 years. There are few opinions about what the Sedlabanki will do, however there are many possibilities. Recall that the Sedlabanki raised rates by one whole point in an inter-meeting move near the end of March. Between the unscheduled rate hike, which was aimed at high inflation, and now we've seen Icelandic CPI at a 6-year high. The question for tomorrow is, hold, +25bps, +50bps, +75bps, or +100bps? All remain possibilities.

· Treasury yields have declined overnight following the FOMC minutes, which said that a severe economic downturn was possible, and described recent inflation data as disappointing. May fed fund futures are currently pricing in a 40% chance of a 50bps rate cut a the next policy-setting meeting. Looking ahead, there is only one economic number scheduled in today's session, February wholesale inventories. In central bank speak the Fed's Kroszner is due to testify on housing legislation, the Fed's Bernanke is scheduled to speak on financial literacy, and the Fed's Krozner is due to speak about the US economy. Additionally, the Treasury's McCormick is scheduled to hold a pre-G7 briefing.

· Overall the currency market maintained a relatively quiet tone ahead of the European central bank rate decisions on Thursday, and G7 on Friday. The JPY was a touch firmer in pre-European trading after the Asian equities turn turned lower during the last hour of trading. The JPY was also benefiting from some risk aversion after an IMF report warned of much bigger writedowns to come. The GBP was off session lows following better than expected industrial and manufacturing production data for the month of February. The EUR/GBP had a brief encounter with the 0.80-level before retreating toward 0.7970-area. The EUR/USD is holding steady at 1.5730 as dealers anticipate a hawkish ECB press conference on Thursday. Far eastern names continued to bid for Euros below the 1.5700-level and some minor Euro sell stops have built below 1.5660.

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