¬∑Pier 1 (PIR) Imports announced overnight the withdrawal of its proposal to
acquire Cost Plus (CPWM) noting that it is unlikely that they would be able to
acquire a majority interest in Cost Plus at a price that would make sense for
their shareholders. GalxoSmithKline [GSK.UK] announced overnight that the FDA
has approved KINRIX, a vaccine that offers protection against diphtheria,
tetanus, pertussis and polio diseases in one shot. Barclays [BARC.UK] confirmed
overnight that it will raise ¬£4.5B via the sale of 1.58B new ordinary shares. StatoilHydro
[STL.NO] noted upon completion of drilling at Wildcat Well 30/9-21a that the
well cannot be put into production.
¬∑In the newspapers, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal the
possibility of higher fuel prices is seen lowering demand for planes. A third
of Boeing (BA) and Airbus' [EAD.FR] orders could be delayed or canceled due to
higher fuel prices. According to a Business Week article, at a few recent
meetings executives at GM (GM) talked about the prospects of a merger with Ford
(FR). The article notes that talks went no further than some internal chatter
¬∑In energy news overnight, Chevron (CVX) Resumed production at one of its crude
units at the El Segundo Refinery. The unit can process 70K bpd. According to Nigeria's Punch Kaduna Refining and
PetroChemical Company has stopped production due to the inability of the plant
to procure crude due to geopolitical tensions. The Wall Street Journal reported
that Congressional Democrats have proposed mandating margin requirements as
high as 50% for oil contracts. Goldman Sachs reportedly raised its 2008 WTI
crude oil average price forecast to $118/barrel from its previous forecast of
$108/barrel. The UAE Oil Minister said overnight that he expects demand for oil
to rise despite the "unusual prices". The minister said that
speculators are driving up oil prices, adding that the UAE will not agree to
any output hike unless OPEC does.
¬∑In new supply overnight Italy sold ‚ā¨2.5B in April 2010 Zero-Coupon
bonds with an average yield of 4.797% and a bid-to-cover of 1.55x.
¬∑In currencies the USD maintained its recent range despite a barrage of hawkish
ECB talk ahead of next week's ECB policy meeting. The EUR/USD held below the
1.56-level. The USD did see some initial strength at the European open as
dealers noted that some Eastern European supply was helping an early push
towards the 1.5540-level. Echoes of some USD verbal intervention emerged as the
ECB's Trichet reiterated that the US favors a strong USD. Elsewhere, the
Russian President added that a weak USD is an international problem. The
Canadian Finance Minister said overnight that gains in the CAD have helped keep
inflation tame. According an analyst note from Goldman overnight, the Rupee may
still fall despite the recent rate hike because of the country's high current
¬∑On the speaker front, the ECB's Tumpel-Gugerell reiterated overnight that the
ECB is ready to raise rates if needed and remains in state of heightened
alertness. Tumpel-Gugerell sees a temporary slowdown in Euro Zone, but no
sustained economic slowdown. The ECB's Wellink said overnight that real
economic growth in US has become stagnant adding that the US housing market has not calmed down at
this point. The ECB's Trichet reiterated in his testimony to the European
Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee that the ECB is in a state
of "heightened alertness," adding that the ECB is concerned that
current high inflation may become entrenched. Trichet noted that high inflation
is due to energy and food prices, and asserted that wage growth may be stronger
than previously expected. Trichet added that the ECB must keep longer term
inflation expectations anchored, and said that Q1 growth reflects temporary
factors noting that the ECB views Q1 and Q2 together. Trichet added in his
speech that verbal discipline on the Euro is important, reiterating that the US favors a strong Dollar. Trichet noted
however that the ECB does not campaign for the Euro to have an international
role. The ECB's Noyer pointed out overnight that the US economy is growing slower, noting that
he does not see a recession. Noyer asserted that inflation justifies the ECB's
extreme vigilance, adding that he sees upward risks to price stability. Noyer
also said that currency rates are not an objective of the monetary policy of
developed countries. The German HDB Construction Group raised its 2008 industry
growth forecast to 4% from 3%, noting that 2009 sales are expected to be
relatively flat in real terms.
¬∑*** NOTES ***
¬∑Norges bank is due out with their interest rate decision at this morning. The market consensus is
split with 45% of economists surveyed forecasting a 25bps interest rate hike,
and 55% forecasting that Norges bank will hold rates at 5.50%. Given the recent
data this is a tough call. Recall however that at the May policy meeting the
bank held rates due to market turbulence and global growth risks. Central bank
members said that the high inflation outlook suggested further tightening.
¬∑Despite the numerous ECB speakers on the wires overnight there was nothing new
in speakers' respective tones. As things stand right now the ECB is sticking to
its price stability mandate, and is ready to forge ahead at full speed in the
fight against rising inflation.
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