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Tuesday April 29, 2008 - 11:30:01 GMT
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European Market Update: UK Mortgage Approvals Hit an All Time Low

European Market Update: UK Mortgage Approvals Hit an All Time Low


· FR Apr Consumer Confidence: -37 v -37e

· FR Apr Housing Starts: -9.9% v -7. 5%e

· FR Apr Housing Permits: -15.5% v -12.7% prior

· SP Apr Preliminary CPI Harmonized Y/Y: 4.2% v 4.4%e

· SP Mar Retail Sales Y/Y: -8.7% v -2.8%e

· SP Mar Adj. Retail Sales Y/Y: -5.5% v -2.7% prior

· SW Apr Consumer Confidence: 0.8 v 1.5e

· SW Apr Economic Tendency Survey: 103.2 v 103.2 prior || Prior revised from 103.2 to 103.5

· SW Q1 Manufacturing Confidence: 3.0 v 0.0e

· SW Mar Retail Sales: M/M 0.4% v 0.3%e || Y/Y 3.9% v 3.6%e

· IT Apr Retailers' Confidence: 106.2 v 110.7 prior || Prior revised from 110.7 to 110.6

· IT Apr Services Survey: 4 v 3 prior

· IT Mar Hourly Wages: M/M 0.0% v 0.3%e || Y/Y 2.8% v 3.1%e

· IT Mar PPI: M/M 0.8% v 0.5%e || Prior revised from 0.7% to 0.9% |||| Y/Y 6.3% v 5.8%e || Prior revised from 5.7% to 5.9%

· SZ Mar UBS Consumption Indicator: 2.289 v 2.321 prior || Prior revised from 2.321 to 2.317

· UK Mar Final M4 Money Supply: M/M 0.8% v 0.8% prior || Y/Y 11.9% v 12.0% prior

· UK Mar Final M4 Sterling Lending: £17.4B v £17.7B prior

· UK Mar Net Consumer Credit: £6.9B v £7.2Be || Prior revised from £7.4B to £7. 3B

· UK Mar Net Lending: £6.9B v £7.2Be || Prior revised from £7.4B to £7.3B

· UK Mar Mortgage Approvals: 64K v 66Ke || Prior revised from 73K to 72K


· In equity news overnight, Doctor Reddy's (RDY) received FDA tentative approval for the generic version of Bayer's (BAY) AVELOX. Merck (MRK) received a non-approvable letter from the FDA for MK-0524A (ER niacin/laropiprant) in hypercholesterolemia or mixed dyslipidemia. Deutsche Bank (DB) reports a first-quarter pretax loss of -€254M, slightly better than expectations of -€264M. The net loss for the quarter was -€131M, down from the €2.12B a year ago. Write-downs totaled at €2.7B for the first quarter. British Petroleum (BP) reported a first-quarter net of $7.62B, up from the $4.66B a year ago, adding that they expect continued improvement in their refining ability. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) reported a first- quarter net of $9.08B, up from the $7.28B a year ago. Shell's CEO said that "Good operating performance, combined with increased oil and gas prices, offset the impact of downstream conditions in the first quarter 2008" In sector rotation Goldman Sachs raised the Integrated Oil Sector to Attractive from Neutral, noting that its favorites include ConocoPhillips (COP) and Chevron (CVX).

· In the papers overnight, the Wall Street Journal reported overnight that Citigroup (C) is offering to cover some of the losses from a pair of internal hedge funds which have seen sharp declines in their values. According to the New York Times a Senate subcommittee has planned a hearing next week to examine the foreclosure practices of mortgage lenders. Specifically, lawmakers will probe whether or not these lenders are abusing the bankruptcy court system and deepening the foreclosure problem.

· In energy news overnight
Mexico's Pemex closed 3 oil export terminals due to weather conditions overnight. The terminals are the Pajaritos, Salina Cruz and Cayo Arca terminals. No timeline as to when the refineries are expected to go back into production was provided. Treasury Secretary Paulson said overnight that there is some concern that oil supplies could get tighter. British Petroleum (BP) reported a breakdown and flaring at its Carson Refinery (265K bpd) in California overnight According to wire reports Valero (VLO) is entertaining bids for its Memphis and Krotz Springs refineries. Reported potential bidders include Tesoro (TSO) and Leucadia National (LUK).

· In new supply overnight Italy sold €4.0B in August 2018 BTPs with an average yield of 4.65% and a bid-to-cover of 1.30x, as well as €2.5B in February 2011 BTPs with an average yield of4.15% and a bid-to-cover of 1.48x, and €1.25B in December 2014 floating rate notes with an average yield of 4.35% and a bid-to-cover of 1.69x. The Wall Street Journal wrote overnight that the FOMC will discuss paying interest on reserves. In a brief announcement on its Web site, the Fed said its board of governors would meet Wednesday under "expedited procedures" to consider "the Implications of Interest on Reserves for Monetary Policy Implementation." Under current law, the Fed can begin paying interest on reserves in 2011. The Fed could ask Congress for legislation to accelerate that date. According to an S&P report released overnight, further write-downs are expected in the German banking sector this year. S&P released a separate report noting that its outlook for the
Germany economy is good due to the country's strong economic fundamentals. Elsewhere, Moody's released a report overnight noting that its outlook for the Spanish banking sector was negative primarily as the result of a more pronounced weakening of the domestic real estate market that initially anticipated.

· The data flow was heavy in
Europe overnight, however there isn't too much to report on the data front. March mortgage approvals in the UK declined to their lowest level since records began in 1993. The Y/Y harmonized reading on Spanish CPI was declined by more than expected to 4.2% from 4.6% in March. Spanish real retail sales for the month of March declined to -8.7% y/y overnight, their lowest level on record. According to RealtyTrac, US Q1 Foreclosures rose by 23% from Q4, pointing out that the figures more than doubled from last year's comparable level. RealtyTrac said that foreclosures affected 1 of every 194 homes in Q1.

· In currencies overnight the USD was firmer against the major currency pairs overnight. Dealers were pointing to the spread differential between the 2-year Schatz and
US 2-year note as the initial catalyst for the USD's strength. Dealers noted late Friday that the narrowing of the spread is currently aiding the USD's rebound from its recent all-time lows against the euro. Dealers also took notice of a press story that the Fed is to consider paying interest on commercial bank reserves. European data was also weighing upon Euro sentiment as Spanish retail sales came in below expectations coupled with softening French confidence data. The EUR/USD retested last week's lows of 1.5550 before stabilizing. The EUR/GBP was relatively stable around 0.7860 and the EUR/JPY was softer by 50 pips around 162.35. Overall, the market is in standby mode ahead of the FOMC rate decision on Wednesday. Dealers noted overnight that liquidity will be thin as the week progresses as we approach the May day holiday in Europe and Golden week in Asia; this could increase market volatility.

· In central bank speak overnight the ECB's Wellink said overnight that lower German CPI is no reason to change ECB policy, adding that slower M3 growth maybe a signal that the economy is cooling. Wellink said that there is no reason to ease before inflation recedes and is satisfied with present ECB policy. In his testimony to Parliament, the BOE's King said that the path to keep inflation at the 2% target is unlikely to be straightforward. King said that although CPI may deviate from target temporarily, the BOE will return it to the target level. King noted that the decline in house price will impact consumer borrowing and savings.

· Comment: Overall there were no earth shattering events overnight, however the session was packed with notable earnings reports and economic data. There is some speculation that the weaker CPI data in
Spain will make the ECB second guess its policy stance following the weaker CPI data in Germany yesterday. The ECB's Wellink calmed such speculation when he addressed the topic directly. The RealtyTrac figures released this morning are frightening, and are thought by some analysts to be a sign of what's to come (or continue to come for that matter). All eyes rest upon tomorrow's FOMC rate decision, but we'll have to make our way through earnings today, and the Euro-Zone CPI estimate tomorrow morning first.

· Looking ahead, April consumer confidence is the only major release expected in the
US this morning, and is due after the equity market open. There are a series of notables due to report in the pre-market this morning, including Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), CBS Corp. (CBS), Mastercard (MA), McGraw Hill (MHP), Medco Health Solutions (MHS), Office Depot (ODP), Valero Energy (VLO), and United States Steel Corp. (X). There are no Fed speakers scheduled this morning, however the ECB's Papademos is scheduled to hold a briefing in Frankfurt, while the Bank of England's Blanchflower is due to deliver a speech this afternoon.


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