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Forex Blog - European Market Update: Heightened alert for possible currency intervention; UK Retail Sales beat expectations; IFO hits record low

Today 05:59am

European Market Update: Heightened alert for possible currency intervention; UK Retail Sales beat expectations; IFO hits record low


- (PH) Philippines Central Bank lowered interest rates by 50bps to 5.50%, more than the 25bps expected

- (JP) Japan Nov Final Machine Tool Orders Y/Y: -62.1% v -62.2% prior

- (SZ) Swiss Nov Trade Balance: CHF2.15B v CHF1.95B prior; Exports: 4.9% v -4.6% prior; Imports: 2.3% v -5.5% prior

- (SP) Spain Q3 Labor Costs: 5.1% v 5.3% prior

- (CZ) Oct Retail Sales Y/Y: -3.3% v 0.8%e

- (SZ) Swiss Oct Retail Sales Y/Y: 2.9% v 2.0%e

- (HK) Hong Kong Nov Unemployment Rate: 3.8% v 3.7%e;

- (NV) Dutch Nov Unemployment Rate: 3.8% v 3.9%e

- (GE) German Dec IFO - Business Climate: 82.6 v 84.0e (lowest since 1982); Current Assessment: 88.8 v 90.8e; Expectations: 76.8 v 77.0e

- (IT) Italian Q3 Unemployment Rate: 6.7% v 7.0%e

- (NO) Norway Dec Unemployment Rate: 2.0% v 1.9%e;

- (UK) Nov Retail Sales M/M: 0.3% v -0.6%e; Y/Y: 1.5% v 1.0%e

- (UK) Nov Pubic Finances (PSNCR): £10.3B v £10.8Be; Public Sector Net Borrowing: £16.0B v £13.4Be

- (UK) Nov Prelim M4 Money Supply M/M: 1.2% v 2.0%e; Y/Y: 16.3% v 17.1%e

- (EU) Euro-zone Oct Trade Balance: €0.9B v -€4.5Be; Trade Balance SA: -€1.3B v -€5.5Be


- In equities: ASML [ASML.NV] Lowered its Q4 Revenue outlook to €450-500M range against consensus estimates of €534.8M (The prior co view was€530M). It announced that it would reduce its workforce by1K jobs (about 10% of total workforce) and close down its facilities for 4 weeks in H1 2009 || Siemens [SIE.GE] Reiterated its profit targets for industry division,. It sees the FY profit margin in a range of 9% to 13% . It noted that divisions backlog remained “high”. || Quantas [QAN.AU] British Airways stated that it was no longer in discussions with company regarding a merger. British Airways stated that it was unable to reach an agreement at this time || Yara [YAR.NO] Announced that its Growhow joint venture would suspend ammonia production at its Ince, UK facility after Christmas. It would resume production when markets improved || Rank [RNK.UK] Reported 15-week SSS +1%, YTD like-for-like Rev -7%, Total Rev -5%. Noted that trading for the current financial year remained in line with market expectations. But that the outlook for the UK economy in 2009 is uncertain, || Arriva [ARI.UK] Provided a trading statement in which it saw Group revenue growth of around 50% for FY and added that it saw significant full year earnings growth as expected || Arques Industries [AQU.GE] Sold an 85% share in automobile supplier Eurostyle to management in an MBO in a symbolic price || Pernod-Richard [RI.FR] Signed agreement with Arcus Gruppen for the sale of Groenstedts Cognac, Star Gin, Red Port and Dry Anis brands. Transaction should be completed early in 2009 after obtaining the agreement of the relevant competition authorities || Petrofac [PFC.UK] Expected to report FY08 Net inline with prior expectations. Its FY08 Backlog at $4.0B compared to $4.4B y/y. || Escada [ESC.GE] Reported Reports FY EBITDA €19.7M below the estimate of €24.0M. Revenues came in at €582.5M compared to estimates of €597.0M. The company noted it had not calculated its FY Net, but expected net loss to be greater than loss in 2007. || Ordina [ORDI.NV] Expected to improve FY09 profitability by up €15M. The company announced plans to cut 350 jobs which would result in a one off charge of €20M to €25M in H2 2008 || McBride [MCB.UK] Provided trading statement: Revenue growth has been strong; Guides H1 Rev higher y/y from 2007 || Thales [HO.FR] Offered to purchase CMT Medical for €5.65/shr, deal valued at €21.5M || Vinci [DG.FR] Carlos Tassarra commenced its sale of 8M shares in co. (1.62% of outstanding shares) || Gazprom [GAZP.RU] Firm may seek loan from Russian VEB bank, loan not needed for 2009 investments

- Speakers: Japan Fin Min Nakagawa reiterates in a press conference in the European morning that the BoJ was watching currency markets closely. He added: "I would like to refrain from commenting on whether or not we will intervene, but I do have the means" || ECB's Stark noted that Governments should be required to have an exit strategy for the global credit crisis. He noted that monetary policy should turn restrictive once crisis subsides. Did not see sustained economic decline in Euro zone prices and must insure that government stimulus packages do not lead to rising inflation|| BoE's Bean: Zero rates in UK are possible. Noted that Quantitative easing would needed to be coordinated with the U.K. Treasury and the DMO. || Japan Govt Spokesman Kawamura noted that Japan would act appropriately on forex, including intervention. The Govt will deal appropriately with JPY's rise and must closely watch the JPY's rise against the USD. Lastly the Government needs to respond to currency issue || PBOC Governor Zhou: Rate decision to depend on China's economic data and have no relation to US policy, anticipates consumer inflation to remain || French PM Fillon noted that 2009 growth could be slightly below forecast of +0.2% and +0.5%; No European country would avoid recession in 2009. lastly he did not rule out a second stimulus package for France || IFO's Sinn stated that German exports to weaken further and that firms were being less critical regarding outlook || IFO's Nerb noted that the German economic downturn was "slowing down" and that the overall Economic outlook remains mixed inside germany. He did note that further interest rate cuts by the ECB would help the German economy. He reiterated that both ECB rate cuts and Government measures are important || IFO's Abberger commented that German industry sector was particularly affected by global economic crisis. He stated that the ECB should cut interest rates by a further 50bps from the 2.00% level. However, he commented that the Christmas season would not be strong in term of sales, but not as weak as initial feared. || Goldman Sachs analyst raise US credit losses to $1.8T from $1.2T (on 10/03). Goldman analyst added that he saw a shift towards losses in corporate and consumer loan books. He reiterated that the US was hal-way through the credit crisis || German Econ Ministry expected that economic contractions would intensify in Q4; and that no economic indicators signaled change in the trend. Current data supported view that output will continue to sink fasterand exports would not give a growth boost to country in near future || Chancellor Darling: Banking steps have helped stabilize the economy and that interest rates would stay lower than inflation in 2009 ||

- In Currencies: Action was swift and volatile during the European morning. Following the better UK retail sales data, the Currency market was choppy and volatile as chatter circulated that the BOJ was performing an intervention to weaken the JPY. This chatter was preceded by continued comments from Japanese official about concern over the stron JPY currency. Fin Min Nakagawa reiterated just ahead of the 4:30am ET UK retail sales data that the BoJ was watching currency markets closely. EUR/JPY surged some 350 pips following the UK retail sales data within a 15 minute period to test above 131 level. Other JPY related pairs moved just as dramatically. GBP/JPY went from 135.40 to probe above 138.00. In EUR/USD: Dealers noted that Chinese names have been aggressive buyers of Euros over the last week with some amounts rumored to be above some €60B. || Reportedly, the Russian Central bank has widened the Ruble trading band and dealers noting that today's devaluation appears to be 50 Kopecks. This would mark the 3rd rouble devaluation in a 4 day period and eighth time in under two months since Russia started a gradual devaluation from Nov. 11th. Dealers added that the Russian Central Bank has spent around $100 billion on currency support since early August || EUR/GBP again tested fresh all-time highs at it tested above the 0.95 level. Dealers attributing the recent surge in the cross to comments from BOE's Bean who noted that th e UK economy was getting worse, and that a zero Bank Rate is a possibility. || Lastly, Dealers note that ECB holding non-policy meeting today; pondering whether it could result in unconventional move ||

- In Energy: Chinese Government announced lowered Gasoline and Diesel prices, effective Dec 19th. China cut gasoline prices by 14% and diesel price by 18%. || Petrobras [PBR] Discoverd oil in on shore Potiguar block T-605. It has yet to determine if find can be developed commercially. (Note: On 12.17, discovers more oil in Seal T-391 block) || WSJ "Heard on the Street" comments on the spread between front month and forward oil prices. The article commented on the fact that front month oil prices are trading much lower than forward prices. Article noted that there is more open interest in the first 6 months of Nymex contracts than the next 8 and a half years combined.

*** NOTES ***

- The European morning was all about the currency market. Japan's Nakagawa stepped up JPY intervention talk and the chatter reverberated during the European morning as price action was 'whippy and volatile”. The better-than-expected UK retail sales data provided the perfect catalyst for intervention rumors as European pairs were firmer against the JPY in the aftermath. BOE's Bean noted during the Asian session that UK interest rates could fall as low as ZERO percent and that the economic situation was worsening in the UK. Other topic mention among the dealing desks in Europe focused on Goldman Sachs planed sale of its Sanyo stake for $2.7B to Panasonic.

- Looking Ahead

- 8:30 (CA) Canadian Oct International Securities Transactions: Consensus expectations are -C$1B; The prior number was -C$267M

- 8:30 (CA) Canadian Nov Leading Indicators: M/M consensus expectations are -0.4%; The prior number was -0.4%

- 8:30 (CA) Canadian Oct Retail Sales: M/M consensus expectations are ; The prior number was . Y/Y Consensus expectations are -1.1%; The prior number was -1.1%. Retail Sales less Autos : Consensus expectations are -1.0%; The prior number was 0.8%

- 8:30 (US) Initial Jobless Claims Dec w/e 13th: Consensus expectations are 558k; The prior number was 573k

- 8:30 (US) Dec Continuing Claims w/e Dec 6th : Consensus expectations are 4.375M; The prior number was 4.429M.

- 10:00 (US) Dec Philadelphia Fed: Consensus expectations are -40.5; The prior number was -39.3.

- 10:00 (US) Nov Leading Indicators: Consensus expectations are -0.4%; The prior number was -0.8%.


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