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Thursday May 22, 2008 - 11:17:40 GMT
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Forex Blog - European Market Update: Euro-Zone Industrial Production Weight Down by Strong Euro & High Energy Prices


·IT May Consumer Confidence: 103.2 v 99.4e || Prior revised from 99.8 to 99.9

·IT Mar Retail Sales: M/M -0.5% v -0. 2%e || Prior revised from 0.3% to 0.2% |||| Y/Y -1.0% v 0.6%

·UK Apr Retail Sales: M/M -0.2% v -0.5%e || Prior revised from -0.4% to -0.2% |||| Y/Y 4.2% v 4.2%e || Prior revised from 4.6% to 4.7%

·UK Q1 Preliminary Total Business Investment: Q/Q -1.4% v 0.3%e || Y/Y 3.7% v 5. 5%e

·EU Mar Industrial New Orders: M/M -1.0% v -0.5%e || Prior revised from 0.6% to 0.2% |||| Y/Y -2.5% v 4.8%e

·IC Icelandic Central Bank: Holds rates at 15.50; Was expected to raise by 25bps.


·In equity news overnight Nelnet (NNI) announced that it is suspending its dividend Air France [AF.FR] reported their Q4 net at a loss of €49M overnight, above estimates of €59M, and revenue of €5.7B, above the €5.6B consensus estimate. The company noted that premium traffic was hit by Easter in March. Tate & Lyle [TATE.UK] reported FY07 net income of £187M, down from the £217M in 2006, and revenue of £3.4B, up from the £3.2B seen in 2006. Cable & Wireless [CW.UK] reported FY07 net income of £164M, just below estimates of £168.2M, and revenue of £3.15B, just below estimates of £3.2B. The London Stock Exchange [LSE.UK] reports their FY07 net income at £173.8M, well above the £157M estimate, and revenue of £546.4M, above estimates of £526M.

·The newspapers were relatively dry in terms of equity related stories overnight. According to the Financial Times, the world's leading banks are looking to relax accounting rules. A group of more than 300 companies (the
Institute of International Finance) have created a proposal on "fair value" accounting that would enable financial companies to value illiquid assets using historical, rather than market prices.

·In energy news, according to the Wall Street Journal the IEA warned of a future oil production crunch, saying that future supplies may be tighter than initially thought. The IEA is currently in the process of assessing the condition of the world's top 400 oil fields. Official findings will not be published until November. The Qatari oil minister said overnight that oil prices are out of control, adding that OPEC members are producing at full capacity, and reiterating that OPEC does not have any plans to react ahead of the September meeting. Al-Attiyah added that there is no magic solution to the record high oil prices, adding that oil producers are being hit by record high inflation. ING overnight raised its 2008 average oil price forecast by 21% and its 2009 average oil price forecast by 44%, putting both forecasts at $115. ING also raised its long- term oil prices forecast by 50% to $90/barrel, noting that it had to "rip up" its previous oil price assumptions. ING said that oil prices are stubbornly disconnected from fundamentals. The Libyan Oil Minister said overnight that OPEC is producing as much as market seeks, reiterates that oil prices are driven by speculation, and adding that the price of oil is out of OPEC's hands. According to RIA Novosti the Russian cabinet may submit a bill to cut taxes for oil producers to parliament next week.

·In new supply overnight
Spain sold €1.07B in 4.90% 30-year bonds with an average yield of 4.917%, and a bid-to-cover of 2.18x. The cover compares to the 1.9x averaged over the past three auctions. Elsewhere, the DMO sold £900M in 1.125% 2037 I/L gilts with a real yield of 0.763% and a bid-to-cover of 1.99x. The cover compares to the 2.3 seen at the previous auction. The Wall Street Journal noted overnight that early signs suggest that any changes made to Libor by the BBA will be modest. According to the Financial Times, the OECD sees food prices remaining elevated for 10 years The article sites a pending report which indicates that the rising demand from the biofuels industry and developing countries such as China will be highlighted as catalysts for the rise in prices. Moody's said overnight that Spanish RMBS delinquency rates deteriorated in Q1, noting that deterioration is likely to continue in 2008. Moody's said that 2008 is likely to be challenging due to tighter credit conditions, softening growth, rising unemployment, and higher mortgage interest rates. Moody's pointed out that in Q1 60+ day delinquencies rose to 1.13% from 0.85% in Q4.

·In the currencies, the GBP rose to a three-week high of 1.9768 on the back of a weaker-than-expected 0.2% decline in
UK April retail sales and an upward revision to the March reading. The EUR/GBP was lower by 35 pips around the 0.7970-level. The EUR/USD was off its best levels of 1.5814 seen just ahead of the European morning.

·On the speaker front overnight a Bank of France spokesperson said overnight that there is no credit crunch for household and company financing, adding that household debt rose at a slower pace in 2007 than in prior years. According to the International Herald Tribune French Finance Minister Lagarde urged central banks to reduce the "misalignment" in the world's major currencies overnight, saying that the slow USD is feeding an increasing trend toward protectionism in the
US and other places. The German Finance Minister said overnight that the German economic upswing is likely to continue, adding that he only sees a slight dampening in economic momentum. The finance minster added that wages and job growth to lift private consumption, pointing out that export momentum seen slowing due to the strong Euro. The Norges Bank Governor said overnight that rates will remain in 5%-6% until June 25, adding that interest rate hikes have started to slow growth. The central bank governor said that capacity utilization must be curbed to prevent high inflation, noting that he sees signs of a cooling in the Norwegian housing market. The governor also pointed out that the Krone is strong. The ECB's Weber said overnight that inflation is back on the global scale, noting that current price pressures are due to high food and energy costs. Weber added that stability-oriented monetary policy is necessary to deal with inflation pressures. The German BDB Lobby raised its 2008 GDP forecast to 2.25%-2.50% from 1.6% overnight, maintaining its 2009 forecast of just under 2.0%. The BDB Lobby warned against excessive optimism after Q1 growth, noting that financial market problems are not over yet. Ex- Bundesbank Head Ernst Welteke (1999-2004) said overnight that the ECB's interest rate level is appropriate, adding that the ECB should by no means lower interest rates. Bank of Spain Chief Economist Malo de Molina said overnight that the Spanish economy is slowing at a faster rate than expected. The Italian Employers Group said overnight that the strong Euro harming exports, adding that the ECB must not underestimate the slowdown in growth.

·On the data front, Italian retail sales declined by more than expected, falling to their lowest Y/Y leave since March of 2006. Declines were felt all around, but the biggest declines were seen in the pharmaceuticals, and hardware components. In the
UK April retail sales above M/M consensus expectations, and in-line with expectation on the Y/Y front, and were accompanied by upward revisions to the March reading. Retail sales were predominantly bolstered by a strong reading in the non- specialized stores component. Euro-Zone industrial new orders declined by more than expected, falling to the lowest Y/Y level since September of 2003, burdened by higher energy prices, a slowdown in global economic growth, and the strong Euro. The Sedlabanki unexpectedly held rates at 15.50% overnight. The Icelandic central bank was expected to raise rates by 25bps, and likely held due to the recently announced Nordic swap facility. The central bank is due to publish comments on its decision at 11:00 GMT today.

·Looking ahead, on the data front the weekly initial jobless claims and continuing claims are due out at 8:30ET, and will be followed at 10:00ET by the Q1 house price index. In central bank speak the Fed's Kroszner is due to speak to state banking regulators in
Florida. Elsewhere the Treasury's Paulson is scheduled to speak in Chicago today, while the Bank of Canada's Carney is scheduled to speak in New York. On the earnings front, US notable Barnes & Noble (BKS), Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS), Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL), and Tech Data (TECH) are all expected to report earnings ahead of the equity market open today.


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