Â· All was quiet on the equity front overnight. In equity news Encana (ECA)
announced plans this weekend to split into two separate companies. Encana's
board voted to split EnCana into two highly focused energy companies - one a
natural gas company with an outstanding portfolio of early life, North
American, natural gas resource plays and the other a fully integrated oil
company with industry-leading in-situ oilsands properties and top-performing
refineries, as well as an underlying foundation of reliable oil and gas
resource plays. Elsewhere, following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in China an Intel (INTC) spokesperson said that
the Company has not yet determined the impact of the earthquake on its Chengdu operations. Chengdu is in the Sichuan province in China, the same province as Wenchuan county
where the earthquake occurred.
Â· In the newspapers, according to the Financial Times Vodafone (VOD) said that
it has no plan to bid for South Africa's MTN (MTN.SA) According to the Sunday
Express Lloyds (LLOY.UK) is expected to cut hundreds of jobs in the UK; Most of
the job cuts are expected to come from Lloyd's IT unit. The Wall Street Journal
wrote overnight that AiG's (AIG) airplane leasing unit may seek to split from
the company. According to the Telegraph the UK government has decided not to sell
entire stake in British Energy [BGY.UK] to just one bidder. Il Sole 24 Ore
wrote this weekend that Finmeccanica may make a $5.4B buyout offer for DRS
Â· In energy news overnight an Iranian official said overnight that there will
be no emergency OPEC meeting before September. Similarly, the Qatari oil
minister said overnight that he sees no need for OPEC to meet before September.
According to wire reports overnight Exxon (XOM) is restarting a gasoline unit
at its BeaumontTexas refinery (349K bpd). Sources reported
overnight that Valero (VLO) is restarting its 135K bpd WilmingtonCalifornia refinery units following a power outage
on Sunday. Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) said overnight that it is losing the
equivalent of 30K bpd due to the recent attacks in Nigeria. The Wall Street Journal wrote overnight
that a US House committee has started a probe into speculation in energy
markets. Hearings have been scheduled for May and June. The article notes that
lawmakers are particularly taking aim at hedge funds and investment banks.
Â· In fixed income related news overnight the Financial Times looked at the
impact of central banks on the mortgage bond market in a piece written
overnight. The FT notes that central bank interventions helped drive a sharp
rally in bonds backed by good-quality mortgages. The safest UK mortgage bonds have seen sharp increases
in value, while in Europe risk premiums on these assets has more
than halved since the end of March. Despite the recent rally in some types of
mortgage bonds, risk premiums on such assets are still many times higher than
pre-credit crunch levels. The FT notes that the recent gains in some mortgage
bonds have been driven by improved sentiment in credit markets and the
continued "central bank bid" The Financial Times wrote overnight that
writedowns taken by UK banks may hurt the country's public
finances due to lower corporate tax revenues. According to the FT, the Â£10B of
writedowns unveiled by RBS, Lloyds and HBOS in recent weeks will cut more than
Â£2.5B off of the 3 banks combined tax bills. The Telegraph wrote overnight that
the UK's Loan Market Association is expected to
move to close a lending loophole, which allows private equity companies to buy
back their own debt at a discount. The Telegraph reported overnight that the
BOE will unveil new economic forecasts this week, which will predict that CPI
will top 3% over the next months The Telegraph wrote overnight that bankers for
Alliance Boots are in talks to sell the company's Â£9B of debt to private equity
buyers, including KKR. According to the Times the British Chamber of Commerce
(BCC) said that the BOE should not wait to cut rates further. The BCC added
that the BOE missed a valuable opportunity to raise confidence on Thursday by
not cutting rates.
Â· All was quiet on the central bank speaker front overnight. Making a single
comment the EU's Juncker said overnight that the Dollar FX rate is no longer a
cause of European crises. Elsewhere the ECB's Quaden said that [the current]
monetary policy is fully appropriate, adding that the ECB can act flexibly as
Â· In currencies, the USD started the European session on a firm note as dealers
took notice of comments in the weekend press regarding a ''possible'' floor
plan being worked on for the dollar. A WSJ article reported over the weekend
that a US official stated that the Bush
administration is leading the international effort to put a floor under the
weak USD. The article cites a senior U.S. Treasury official noting that the
move to address USD plunge at G7 came at the behest of the American side. The
EUR/USD probed below the 1.54-handle before consolidating its gains. The JPY
was broadly softer aided by firmer global equity markets and comments from BOJ's
Shirakawa who noted that it is appropriate to keep interest rates steady as the
chance of the U.S. economy stalling remains high over the near-term. The
USD/JPY approached the 104-handle as the European morning wore on.
Â· The GBP/USD rebounded from session lows of 1.9445 after higher than expected
inflation data, surging to 1.9590. The EUR/GBP is off 50 pips at 7875, while
the GBP/JPY up 300 pips at 203.30.
Â· On the data front Italian industrial production data fell below analysts'
estimates for the month of March, with the unadjusted y/y reading declining to
its lowest level since April of 2006 at -7.4%. In the UK the April PPI input, output, and output
core readings all skyrocketed beyond the already inflated consensus
expectations in some cases reaching levels not seen since the 1980's. In China, the PBOC announced a 50bps reserve
requirement hike, bringing the reserve ratio up to 16.50%. The RR hike will
take effect on May 20th, and is the fourth RR hike this year.
Â· Looking ahead, on the data front there is one economic release scheduled in
the US today, and that is the April monthly
budget statement due at . In Fed speak the Fed's Evans is due to
speak about the US economic outlook in Illinois this morning, while the Fed's Lockhart
is due to speak at a financial markets conference this evening. On the earnings
front, today will be the big day this week in terms of volume; key earnings
reports expected in the pre-market today include Charter Communications (CHTR),
Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. (GNA), Holly Corporation (HOC), JA Solar Holdings
(JASO), and MBIA (MBI).
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