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Monday August 4, 2008 - 10:58:52 GMT
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Forex Blog - European Market Update: Rate Decisions and Commentary Anticipated as Economic Data Continues to Provide a Gloomy Outlook


·SP July Net Change in Unemployment: 36.5K v 36.8K prior

·SP July Consumer Confidence: 46.3 v 51.7 prior

·SZ July SVME PMI: 54.1 v 53.6e

·NO July PMI: 51. 7 v 49.1e

·UK July Construction PMI: 36.7 v 37.5e

·EU August Sentix Investor Confidence: -15.3 v -10.0e

·EU June PPI: M/M 0.9% v 0.8%e || Y/Y 8.0% v 7.9%e


·In equity news overnight Air Liquide [AI.FR] reported 1H net income of €601M, above the €575M consensus, and revenue of €6.37B, above the €6.3B consensus. The company also reaffirmed its FY08 forecast for net growth at a double-digit rate. (Shares were +1.0% in early trading). Fortis [FORB.BE] reported Q2 net income of €830M, above the €692M consensus. Fortis' core tier 1 capital ratio was at 7.4%, while the solvency ratio of 196.1%. Fortis noted that its capital position is sound. (Shares were +2.0% in early trading). Delhaize Group [DELB.BE] reported Q2 net income of €116.3M, just above the €114M consensus, and revenue of €4.45B, just below the €4.55B consensus. Delhaize noted that Q2 SSS rose by 1.9%, while Belgian SSS rose by 0.7%. Delhaize also confirmed its FY08 outlook. (Shares were +5.5% in early trading). Imperial Energy [IEC.UK] confirmed overnight the receipt of another cash offer. The company said that there is no certainty that an offer will be made. (Shares were +8.0% in early trading). HSBC [HSBA.UK] reported 1H net income of $7. 72B, above the $7.34B consensus, and pretax of $10.2B, below the $10.8B consensus. HSBA's 1H loan loss reserve of $10.1B was slightly above the $9. 7B expected. HSBC said that they will “run-off” their vehicle finance business, and added that the outlook remains challenging and highly uncertain. (Following the mid-session release shares were +1.4%).

·In the newspapers the Sunday Times wrote that Royal Dutch Shell [RDSA.UK] has held preliminary talks with Sibir Energy [SBE.UK] regarding a £1B asset-swap deal. Sonntag wrote overnight that UBS [UBSN.SZ] may write down as much as CHF9B in Q3. The article also noted that UBS is reportedly mulling a break up of its investment and wealth-management units. The Times reported overnight that Electricite de France [EDF.FR] may face pressure from the
UK government to improve its bid for British Energy [BGY.UK]. According to the Telegraph a consortium made up of the Blackstone Group (BX) may seek to bid for Anheuser-Busch's [INB.BE] theme park unit. The unit is said to be worth around $3.5B. Expansion reported that Iberdrola [IBE.SP] is seeking to block plans by ACS Actividades de Construccion y Servicios [ACS.SP] to raise its stake in the company from around 12% to 20%. Telecom Italia's [TIT.IT] CEO said in an interview with La Stampa that he does not expect Telefonica [TEF.SP] to make a hostile approach for his company.

·In currencies the GBP was weaker in the European morning as various weekend press article noted the fragility of the economy. The shadow MPC voted 5-4 with the majority seeking to maintain rates. The EUR/USD held steady around the 1.5580-level. Dealers continued to watch the 1-year up-trend line at 1.5520, which held during Friday's session. The USD/CAD continued to probe towards the 1.03-pivot point area. Dealers continued to note that USD buy stops are building above the 1.0330-area. Crude was unable to maintain gains seen in Asia despite the current storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico as well as fresh rhetoric out of Iran, which seeks to maintain its right to pursue nuclear energy.

·On the economic front, according to a CBI regional trends survey, orders for
UK goods fell in the majority of regions over the past three months. The survey noted that UK manufacturers are not optimistic that orders will improve over the next quarter. In terms of the pricing component of the survey, unit costs have risen at their fastest pace since the survey started 10 years ago.

·All was quite on the speaker front overnight. The only comments came from Spanish economic minister Solbes, who said that 2008 growth could fall below the government's 1.8% forecast. Solbes added that inflation may have peaked in July.

·*** NOTES ***

·While Tuesday is scheduled to be the busiest day in terms of economic data this week, focus is likely to rest upon Thursday's interest rate decisions from the Bank of England and the European Central Banks. While all analysts surveyed expect both central banks to keep their interest rates on hold this month both interest rate decisions are highly anticipated as each of the bank's respective positions have become rather precarious due to the stagflation-like environment. With record high readings on inflation data, some expect that the ECB may once again raise rates as certain members have been relatively hawkish as of late. Others do not believe that this will happen, and fear that perhaps the Euro-Zone is headed for a recession as recent European data has been worse than that seen in the periled
United States. Over in the UK the BOE's job has remained difficult as inflation is off of the charts, housing is deteriorating, and the central bank's MPC is split over whether growth or inflation is of greater importance. Recall that the BOE held rates at the July policy-setting meeting with one dissenter voting for a rate hike, and another dissenter voting for a rate cut. While the chances that either central bank will take action this week are slim to none, central bank comments, and outlooks could provide insight into what may or may not happen before we're all wearing sparkly sunglasses with a 2 and a 9 on opposite sides of the frames. Regarding today's data, the trend has continued. Euro-Zone PPI rose to its highest y/y level since records began in November of 1983. Construction PMI declined to a new record low in the UK, while the SVME PMI in Switzerland was a 3-year low. Spanish consumer confidence also continued its decline setting a new record low two months ahead of its fourth year anniversary. Similarly, the Euro-Zone Sentix investor confidence was the lowest since July of 2003. That aside, today was a slow start to another earnings filled week with focus this morning on the release of earnings from Fannie Mae (FNM), and Humana (HUM) in the states. On the data front June personal income and spending are due out at 8:30 ET, along with the June PCE data.

·“All good ideas arrive by chance.” - Max Ernst


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