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Friday April 25, 2008 - 11:23:14 GMT
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European Market Update: UK Advanced GDP Yields No Big Surprises

   *** ECONOMIC DATA ***

· GE Mar Import Price Index: M/M 0.4% v 0.6%e || Y/Y 5.7% v 5.9%e

· SP Q1 Unemployment Rate: 9.63% v 9.17%e

· SW Mar Trade Balance: SEK12.5B v SEK17.1B prior || Prior revised from SEK17.1B to SEK16.9B

· SW Mar Household Lending: 10.9% v 11.0% prior

· EU Mar M3 Y/Y: 10.3% v 10. 6%

· EU Mar M3 3-Month Avg: 11.1% v 11.0%e || Prior revised from 11. 4% to 11.5%

· UK Q1 Advanced GDP: Q/Q 0.4% v 0.4%e || Y/Y 2.5% v 2. 6%e

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

· In equity news overnight, Washington Banking Company (WBCO) increases its quarterly dividend by 8% to $0.065 overnight. In Germany, Man AG [MAN.GE] reported first-quarter revenues +15% y/y at €3.8B, and guided 2008 sales +10% y/y. Ericsson (ERIC) reported first-quarter sales results of SEK44.2B, ahead of the SEK42.1B estimate, and net profit of SEK2. 6B, ahead of the SEK2.38B estimate.
Japan's Nomura Holdings (NMR) reported its biggest loss in five years as the results of a $1.26B provision for bond insurer related losses.

· In the newspapers, according to the Financial Times Merrill Lynch is holding talks with private equity firm TPG on closer ties. Such ties could include TPG investing in Merrill if the investment bank needs more capital. Last fall, TPG contacted Merrill and offered to invest as much as $3B into the firm, but made demands including the right to nominate a board member and meet management frequently. According to the Wall Street Journal Sun Microsystems (JAVA) will acquire the technology assets of Montalvo. The terms were not disclosed. Montalvo is a semiconductor startup and the company was believed to be planning to compete with Intel and AMD in the market for chips that use a design called x86. The Financial Times wrote overnight that a consortium of private equity firms may bid for RBS' [RBS.UK] insurance assets. The consortium includes KKR, Lehman and Apax Partners.

· In energy news overnight, the Wall Street Journal reported overnight that refinery strike could force British Petroleum (BP) to shut its main
North Sea pipeline. BP later confirmed that the forties closures will led the company to shut down its Britannia gas and oil field as required. In response to the current situation in the UK, the UK Energy Minister said overnight that the UK faces no fuel shortage in face of the energy strike. Elsewhere, Nigerian militant group MEND claimed a new attack on one of Royal Dutch Shell's (RDS. A) pipelines, however no further details were disclosed.

· In fixed- income, after Japanese CPI rose to its highest y/y level in 10 years the 10- year JGB posted its biggest one-day decline in five years. With a lack of data, new supply, and fresh (unheard) comments from central bank members, action in the European fixed income market was dry overnight. Caterpiller (CAT) reportedly plans to sell three-year bonds in Euros according to source reports. La Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona (or La Caixa for short) reportedly sold €1.5B in cover bonds overnight. In fixed income related news the Financial Times wrote overnight that Merrill Lynch (MER) has started making substantial cuts to its European fixed income and debt capital markets units The Times wrote overnight that some market players doubt the recent
UK retail sales figure. The article comments on now the data differed from the BRC's retail sales report and trading updates by UK retailers. Famed Bloomberg Fed-watcher John Berry wrote overnight that Fed officials are wondering how long consumer price inflation can remain within the 4% range before its beings to undermine their credibility as inflation fighters. Berry argues that, if the Fed does in fact decide to lower rates again at its April 29/30 meeting, the cut will likely be 25bps as the prospect of elevated inflation and the risk to Fed credibility will have a big influence on the Fed's decision.

· In central bank speak overnight, the ECB's Noyer, according to the Wall Street Journal, rejected suggestions that the Euro-zone is ill-equipped to handle a cross-border banking crisis, adding that officials are studying a new rise in money- market rates in order to learn how best to ease resurgent financial-market tension. The ECB's Bini Smaghi said overnight that inflation is not acceptable, adding that strength in Euro is the result of dollar weakness. ECB's Weber said overnight that the financial market turmoil is not over, but its character has changed, adding that tensions remain in interbank money markets, but share markets firmed in the last month. Weber concluded that a lack of trust among banks still jamming financial markets, lack of transparency fans market rumors. The SNB's Roth said that the SNB central bank faces uncertainties in 2008 from inflation risks and economic uncertainties, adding that a LIBOR rate of 2.75% remains appropriate. Roth said that the Swiss economic performance is still excellent but will not go unscathed from the global slowdown. Roth added that the mid to long-term inflation outlook has not deteriorated, noting that the CHF rise corrected the previous slide vs. euro.

· In currencies the Euro continued its soft tone that accelerated with the release of German IFO data on Thursday. Technical factors added to USD momentum as the post G7 summit low of 1.5630 was violated during the European morning. European data also contributed to the softer Euro tone. German import prices came in lower than expected for the month of March as did Euro-Zone M3 showed signs of decelerating. The Euro was unable to find firm footing despite pre-European comments from ECB members that reiterated concerns of inflations. The EUR/JPY was softer, aided by the JGB price action. The JGB futures contract suffered its biggest one day price drop in 5 years as Japan CPI posts 6th straight monthly increase, and its biggest jump in 10 years.

· On the data front Japanese CPI rose to 1.2% y/y in March, reaching its highest level since March of 1998. The data led the 10-year JGB to post its biggest one- day decline in five years. Things were relatively quiet in
Europe overnight. The German import price index for the month of March was slightly lower than expected, with the m/m reading at 0.4% and the y/y reading at 5.7%. In the Euro-Zone, March M3 came in at 10.3% y/y, below the 10.6% estimate, while the 3-month average was 11.1%, just above estimates of 11.0%. Over in the UK advanced GDP for the first-quarter was no surprise as the q/q reading was in line with estimates at 0.4%, while the y/y reading came in at 2.5%, just below estimates of 2.6%.

· Looking ahead, the economic schedule in the
US is light today, with the final U. of Michigan confidence for the month of April the only economic release scheduled today. As opposed to Wednesday and Thursday we will not be hit with a tidal wave of earnings, however there are still a handful of notables due this morning including American Axle & Manufacturing (AXL), Coventry Health Care (CVH), Goodyear Tire (GT), and ITT Corp (ITT).

 

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