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Wednesday July 9, 2008 - 12:16:35 GMT
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Forex Blog - European Market Update: Lower Oil and Digestion of Bernanke's Comments Help the European Bourses Bandage Yesterday's Losses


·*** ECONOMIC DATA ***

·UK June Nationwide Consumer Confidence: 61 v 65e

·GE May Trade Balance: €14.4B v €17.3B y/y || Prior revised from €18.7B to €18.8B

·GE May Current Account: €7.5B v €12.5Be || Prior revised from €14.5B to €15.5B

·GE May Imports: 0.7% v 1.0%e || Prior revised from -2.1% to -2.3%

·GE May Exports: -3.2% v 0.5% || Prior revised from 1.2% to 1.1%

·FR May Trade Balance: -€4.7B v -€4.0Be

·SW May Industrial Production: M/M - 1.0% v 0.2%e || Y/Y -5.0% v 0.8%e

·SW May Industrial Orders: M/M 5. 3% v -6.8% prior || Prior revised to -6.6% from -6.8% || Y/Y -3.7% v 10.1% prior || Prior revised from 10.1% to 9.7%

·UK May Visible Trade Balance: -£7.49B v -£7.4Be || Prior revised from -£7.59B to -£7. 53B

·UK May Trade Balance Non-EU: -£4.03B v -£4.1Be || Prior revised from -£4.19B to -£4.14B

·UK May Total Trade Balance: -£4.25B v -£4. 2Be || Prior revised from -£4.33B to -£4.05B

·UK June BRC Shop Price Index: M/M 0.9% v 0.6% prior || Y/Y 2.5% v 1.8% prior

·*** SPEAKERS/FIXED INCOME/FX/COMMODITIES/ERRATUM ***

·On the analyst front Merrill Lynch Raised Wachovia (WB) to neutral from sell overnight, noting that the company has an acquisition value of $16-$20/share. Credit Suisse cut its price targets for the
UK banking sector while UBS cut its price targets for the Spanish banking sector. Societe Generale resumed coverage of the European brewers with a neutral rating. In equity news Redrow [RDW.UK] said in a trading update overnight that margins continued to be under pressure, but noted that recent results were in line with expectations. The company expects to cut 40% of jobs. Redrow guided 2H net reservations down 55% y/y, and said that the cancellation rate is around 30% vs. 18% last year. Furthermore Redrow noted that forward sales are down 44.66% y/y, and added that difficult market conditions are expected to continue for some time. Bovis Homes [BVS.UK] reported 1H home sales of 851 v 1,256 last year. The company does not see any material inventory writedowns this year. The average sale price in the 1H was £196.500, down from £196.500 in 2007; the company cites a shift towards smaller properties for the decline. The Group is expecting to deliver an overall gross housing profit margin of approximately 26% for the half year, a decline of some 6% against the comparable period. Bovies plans to cut approximately 40% of jobs. Finally, Bovis declared a 5p/share interim dividend, down from the 20p/share that the company previously anticipated paying for the interim period. Renault [RNO.FR] reported 1H unit sales +4.3% y/y overnight. The company guided FY08 sales growth of 5%-10% noting that results are likely to be closer to the lower end of the range. The company had previously guided sales growth of 10%. As expected WPP [WPP.UK] went hostile in its bid for Taylor Nelson [TNS.UK]. The hostile offer values Taylor Nelson at 260.6p/share in cash and stock. The total deal is valued at £1.1B. The offer is for 173p cash, 0.1889 shares for each TNS share. Recall that Taylor Nelson rejected WPP's 206p/share offer on July 3rd.

·In energy news overnight the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) raised jet fuel prices in
China by CNY720/ton from July 1. The price increase follows the CNY1,500/ton hike that went into effect on June 20th, and brings the current price up to CNY8,720/ton. According to unconfirmed source reports Iran's Revolutionary Guards test fired a longer range Shahab 3 missile overnight. The missile has the ability to reach Israel and has a range of 2,000 kilometers. A related report citing a State Broadcaster said that Iran tested 9 long and medium range ground-to-ground missiles. Following the news an Israeli Government Spokesman urged that the Iranian missile test be viewed with 'grave concern,' noting that Israel seeks no conflict or hostilities with Iran. A White House spokesperson said that Iran should refrain from further missile tests, reiterates its commitment to a diplomatic path. The Financial Times noted overnight that the EU agreed in principle to report weekly oil stocks data in a move to increase market transparency. According to the Wall Street Journal various China- based oil-services firms are in negotiations regarding oil exploration in Darfur. The Telegraph wrote overnight that according to Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), UK oil and gas production will drop by 5% over the next 5 years.

·In new supply overnight
Germany sold €5.88B in 4.75% June 2010 Schatz with an average yield of 4.46% and a bid-to-cover of 1.5x. The cover compares to the 1.4x seen at the June 11th auction. The Bundesbank retained 16% in the top-up auction. The Bundesbank also sold €1.759B in 2.25% 5-year I/L Bobl linkers with an average yield of 1.97% and a bid-to-cover of 1.0x. In Portugal the Instituto de Gestão da Tesouraria (IGCP) sold €1.0B in 4. 45% June 2018 OT with an average yield of 4.908% and a bid-to-cover of 1. 70x. The cover compares to the 1.90x seen at the April 23rd auction.

·Geopolitical news dominated currency price action overnight. The EUR/USD continues to consolidate in its 1.5610-1.5730 post ECB rate decision range. The CHF initially firmed following news of a missile test out of
Iran. The USD/CHF tested 1.0280 before recovering back above the 1. 0330 level. Carry-related pairs were higher as European equities rebounded from yesterday's initial weakness generally aided by lower oil prices. The EUR/JPY was back above 168 while the EUR/CHF probed the 1.62-handle.

·On the speaker front Former-Fed Governor Meyer said that the Fed is not likely to start tightening until 2009, adding that the
US economy is still weak and there are still systemic risks. Meyer said that the US economy may be weaker in H2 v H1, adding that the economy could contract in Q4. In his annual testimony to the European Parliament the ECB's Trichet said that risks to price stability remain on the upside, reiterating that inflation is expected to remain above target for some time. Trichet said that he sees moderate ongoing growth continued in 2008 with q/q growth showing significant volatility. Trichet also reiterated that Euro Zone economic fundamentals are sound, but downside risks remains due to high commodity prices. The EU's Juncker reiterated overnight that inflation remains a concern. Juncker noted that Trichet will visit China to discuss FX in H2 of 2008. Juncker added that inflation is the main concern of EU citizens. Speaking in Madrid the ECB's Gonzales-Paramo said overnight that the global economy faces multiple turbulences, reiterating that the ECB will make the necessary moves to fulfill mandate. Gonzales-Paramo noted that the ECB's policy remains focused on price stability as upside inflation risks have increased. Furthermore Gonzales-Paramo reiterated that interest rate increase was to prevent second round effects. The ECB's Draghi said overnight that global liquidity has help push oil prices higher. Draghi reiterated that the ECB must ensure CPI rise is not permanent. A German Union Economist said overnight that unions do not seek inflation compensation, adding that market pay hikes are the results of the good economy. The economist said that he does not see any signs of a wage price spiral.

·*** NOTES ***

·If it wasn't obvious enough already trading updates from Redrow and Bovis Homes reconfirmed that the outlook for the
UK housing sector is bleak. From the looks of it the situation is unlikely to improve for some time to come. Note that the market is loving Redrow's cost saving initiatives (see 40% staff reduction), hence the sharp rise in the share price overnight. Despite the lack of super positive news on the equity front the European indices looked much better at the open today supported by comments made by the Fed's Bernanke during the US pre- market yesterday as well as lower crude oil prices. European data was pretty dry overnight, however some attention was paid to the -3.2% reading on the German exports figure as it was the lowest since June of 2004 perhaps suggesting that the 1.50+ Euro is starting to hurt. Central bank speak was obligatory and wearying (ie. too many speaking engagements scheduled à repeat, repeat, repeat…). European central bankers maintained their forward looking post-rate hike neutrality, guarding the price stability flag as they scanned the horizon from the watch tower of their inflation fighting castle.

 

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