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Monday May 19, 2008 - 10:53:47 GMT
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Forex Blog - European Market Update: European Markets Quiet as Investors Await German ZEW Survey


·UK May Rightmove house Prices: M/M 1.2% v -0.1% prior || Y/Y 2.2% v 1.3% prior

·FR Apr BOF Business Sentiment: 101 v 105 prior || Prior revised from 105 to 104


·It was a slow night overall, and a slow start to the week. In equity news overnight Manitowoc (MTW) raised its offer for Enodis [ENO.UK] to 294p/share from 260p/share, representing a 5% premium to Illinois Tool Works' (ITW) bid for the company. ING (ING) made a €64/share offer for Interhyp [IYP.GE] representing a 30.5% premium to Friday's closing price.

·Looking at the newspapers, the NY Post wrote overnight that Lehman (LEH) is expected to cut about 5% of its workforce. Citing a person familiar with the firm the article wrote that job cuts may amount to 1,400-1,500 workers. According to the Financial Times overnight BlackRock (BLK) is among the firms which the Saudi government is talking with about managing the $10B endowment fund for a new university in the country. The Telegraph reported overnight that British Land [BLND.UK] is expected to write down £1.9B in assets when it gives a trading update on May 20 - Telegraph According to the Guardian Imperial Tobacco [IMT.UK] plans to launch a rights issue of over £4.0B. The Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street section questioned the strength of Radian Group's (RDN) Q1 earnings results overnight. The WSJ notes that Radian was able to record a profit in Q1 only because its financial condition caused it to report gains of about $2B on some of its liabilities. Without a special accounting rule regarding mark-to-market accounting the company would have recorded a $215M loss. The Wall Street Journal wrote overnight that that Daimler (DAI) and BMW [BMW.GE] plan to discuss a tie-up related to components. The
New York Times reported overnight that the $51. 8B takeover of Bell Canada (BCE) appeared to be in trouble over the weekend. The article notes that the Wall Street banks that committed to finance the deal sought to renegotiate the lending terms. The article adds that the banks involved with the deal, have found themselves largely unable to resell the debt related to the transaction. Bankers in the deal include Citigroup, Deutsche and RBS.

·In energy news overnight, according to wire reports repairs have started on a Nigerian pipeline that burst in
Lagos, however a date for when the repairs would be completed was not disclosed. ConocoPhillips (COP) noted in a filing that it shut a crude distillate hydrogen desulfurization unit at its Sweeny Texas plant. The catalyst at the shut unit will be changed by May 31. According to reports overnight Ecuador's President wants to buy out private oil companies that are unwilling to negotiate new deals with the government. The President wants these companies to drop their lawsuit against the government concerning windfall oil profits. On Friday, the government said that it was willing to raise these companies' share of windfall profits to 30%. The OPEC president reiterated overnight that oil markets are well supplied adding that stocks are adequate.

·In currency news overnight the Wall Street Journal wrote overnight that barely six years after
Argentina committed the biggest sovereign-debt default in history and devalued its currency, locals and Wall Street investors are asking an unsettling question: Is it about to happen again? With nearly $50 billion of foreign reserves and one of Latin America's fastest growth rates, Argentina has an array of options to keep its currency stable and meet financing needs in the coming years. Nonetheless, troubling signs of financial panic have appeared. Middle-class Argentines are rushing to cash out savings accounts to buy dollars, a sign they think the government is in big trouble and the currency will plunge. Wary that the rush for dollars would become a full- scale run on the banks, the central bank spent nearly $1 billion to defend the peso in the past two weeks. The government is playing down the risks. "The objective probability of a crisis similar to those of the past is, in the Argentina of today, virtually nil," Central Bank President Martin Redrado wrote in Sunday's La Nacion newspaper. A government spokesman declined to comment further. Elsewhere, economic historian Harold James wrote in the Financial Times overnight about the Dollar's rise as the predominant world currency taking the reins from the British Pound following world war II, and questions whether the Euro will take over the Dollar's spot as the predominant world currency. James writes: given the combination of the rapid decline of the dollar and the Euro-zone overtaking the US as the world's largest economic area, we may be set for another seismic currency shift where the euro takes over the baton from the dollar. The euro is showing all the signs of strain of being the new international key currency. Manufacturers in Europe complain that its rise is imposing new levels of pain. Politicians in many countries across Europe are pressing to have more influence on monetary policy. For many of their constituents, the euro has become one of the whipping boys of globalisation. The euro is a much younger currency than the dollar was in 1944 and it exists in a political environment in which the governance structures for the new currency are not clearly defined. That makes the internal stakes within Europe much higher. Yet the external, geopolitical stakes of currency shifts are high too. Unlike Britain in the aftermath of the second world war, the US remains indisputably the world's only superpower. It will resent what it will call the deflationary impact of the Europeans and deploy a formidable arsenal of diplomatic powers to defend the status of the dollar. In 1944 the dollar became the world's key currency because the US was both the world's leading economic and military power. In 2008, the European Union has many economic advantages but also substantial political vulnerabilities. It is not easy being the world's main currency. It is even possible that the new strains might lead to the break-up of the monetary union.

·In central bank speak overnight the ECB's Trichet said that market correction "ongoing "and "very serious,” adding that Central Bankers must stick to long-term mandate. Trichet said that the current economic climate is "challenging," adding that price stability is best way of ensuring employment growth. The ECB's Stark said overnight that the ECB has solidly anchored long-term inflation expectations, noting that successful monetary policy requires adequate fiscal and economic policies. The National Bureau of Economic Research's Feldstein said when asked about a
US recession in an interview overnight that trend indicators have reversed since the Dec/Jan period. Feldstein added that for several indicators February was terrible, March less bad and in April Indicators fell less than expected, noting that it is too early to tell if US recession will be deep. Feldstein asserted that this crisis is different to previous recessions and rate cut not enough to boost economy, speculating that perhaps monetary policy has lost its traction.

·Looking ahead, on the data front April leading indicators are due out in the
US after the equity market open. There are no central bank speakers scheduled in the US today, nor is there any new supply scheduled. On the earning front US notables Campbell Soup Company (CPB), and Lowe's Companies (LOW) are due out in the pre-market.


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