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Wednesday February 18, 2009 - 11:19:10 GMT
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Forex Blog - European Market Update: BoE MPC minutes show that quantitative easing operations might start earlier than previously expected

Today 06:02am

European Market Update: BoE MPC minutes show that quantitative easing operations might start earlier than previously expected


- (SP) Spain Q4 Final GDP Q/Q: -1.0% v-1.0%e; Y/Y: -0.7% v -0.7%e

- (TT) Taiwan Q4 GDP: -8.4%% v -6.8%e

- (UK) Bank of England Minutes: Voted 8 to 1 to cut interest rates by 50bps to 1.00 at its Feb 5thpolicy meeting and unanimously agreed to seek power to buy GILTS

- (UK) South Africa Dec Retail Sales Constant Y/Y: -0.1% v -5.0%e

- (EU) Dec Construction Output M/M: -2.2% v -1.1% prior; Y/Y: -10.1% v -4.7% prior

- (UK) CBI February Industrial Trends Total Orders: -56 v -48 prior


- Equities: Commerzbank [CBK.GE] Reported Q4 Op Profit loss -€378M better than the loss of €845M expected. It net Loss came in at €809M compared to €851M consensus. Revenues were €977.0B slightly below the €1.04B estimates. Commerzbank expected 2009 to be another difficult year but had a good start in Jan driven by trading profit and net interest income. It did note that revenues to be affected by less business activities. It Q4 Provision for loan losses vame in at €638M above estimates of €527M. For Q4 it encountered a trading loss €701M. Its 2008 Tier 1 capital ratio was 10.1% || Societe Generale [GLE.FR] Reported Q4 Net profit of €87M below estimates of €122M. Revenues were €5.5B above consensus of €4.98B. The firm took a €300M goodwill impairment for Russian operations. It noted that the environment would remain challenging as economic activity was still contracting at start of 2009. it commented that it entered 2009 with solid capital position; sees moderate growth in 2009 risk weighted assets || Merck KgAA [MRK.GE] Reported Q4 Net loss of €279.5M compared to consensus estimates of a profit €102.3M (after minorities). It revenues were €1.9B slightly better than the €1.84B estimates. It noted it was"Impossible" to provide 2009 forecast || Heineken [HEIA.NV] Reported FY08 Net profit of €1.01B (pre-exceptional) slightly worse than the €1.12B estimates. Revenues were €14.32B above €14.11B estimates. It remained cautious on the development of beer consumption and would focus on programs to reduce capital expenditures, net working capital and sale of non-core assets. CEO commented that the outlook for Russia remained 'bleak' and would cut workforce this year. Russian writedown based on Ruble || ING [INGA.NV] Reported Q4 Net loss €3.1B (ex items) better than the loss of €3.43B expected. its FY08 Net loss was €171M better than the loss of €750.6M forecasted. It would review portfolio of businesses in coming months and noted it must reduce complexity of group. Cutting expenses by €1B, seeking to cut balance sheet by 10% from Sep 2008 levels ||Sanofi [SAN.FR] Begin clinical trials in Thailand on Dengue vaccine in child subjects || Puma [PUM.GE] Reported Q4 Net €8.1M (incl items) compared to €31.3M estimates. Its revenues were €561M above consensus of €529M. The Q4 EBIT margin 46.8% versus 51.6% y/y and noted that its current 2009 order backlog was at €1.15B down 5.4% y./y and below estimates of €1.22B. The CEO commented that he did not rule out potential mass workforce cutsthis year||

- Speakers: BOE King has asked Chancellor Darling for permission for quantitative easing ||German Fin Ministry: Cabinet approved draft law which allows bank nationalizations ECB's Stark commented that the economic stimulus package to take effect by year-end and expected the economic trend to stabilize as a result. He reiterated that an exit strategy is needed from deficit spending in global crisis. Stark commented that another reform of Maastricht stability pact would hurt Euro-Zone credibility || BOE Minutes: Voted 8 to 1 to cut interest rates by 50bps to 1.00 at its Feb 5thpolicy meeting and unanimously agreed to seek power to buy GILTS. It noted that it was crucial that DMO policy was consistent with actions of the MPC. Buying commercial paper, corporate bonds via AFP to increase liquidity and likely to purchase a range of assets in due course. The BOE stated that lower rates might hurt bank profit margins. The Sterling drop would increase import prices but monetary policy should not try to stop adjustment. The dissenter was Blanchflower (again) who sought a 100bps interest rate cut and stated that should reach lower boundry without delay || Polish Central Banker Skrzypek commented that the country was 'struggling' to maintain growth above 1% this year (Official view is 1.7% for 2009). The Zloty was too unstable to peg to euro in ERM at this time . He added that the Central Bank could limit open market operations || Ukrainian PM Tymoshenko expressed confidence that loan tranche discussions with IMF would restart in coming days and end successfully || EBRD President Mirow stated he was “deeply concerned” over the econmomic situation Ukraine and urged Ukraine to agree with IMF on loan program. He commented that the EBRD was ready to invest up to $1.3B in Ukraine || EU Commission begins disciplinary budget actions against France, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Malta. Calls on Ireland to enact additional pension reforms and notes Latvia confronts substantial external, internal imbalance. Advises Spain & France to avoid further deterioration of finances || EU's Almunia stated that public finance consolidation was necessary in medium term and noted the need to overcome recession implementation of budget regulations

- In Currencies: Risk aversion will remain high on the agenda for the most part. The GBP was initially weak in the European morning amid U.K. rating fears. UK Telegraph article wrote that Britain's AAA credit rating threatened by scale of bank bail-out. The GBP/USD tested below 1.41 level before rebounding toward 1.42. The GBP was steadied after BoE MPC minutes show that quantitative easing operations might start earlier than previously expected || Eastern Europe and widening EU spreads to Germany still the talk on dealing desks. EUR/USD was holding below the 1.26 for most of the morning. Dealers noting large Apr 1.2000 and Jun 1.1000 Euro put option being placed. || China promised to explore more ways in utilizing its FX reserves to benefit its domestic objectives. || EUR/CHF rebounded from lows of 1.4700 on SNB intervention fears ||

- Fixed income: In fixed income Euro-zone peripheral debt markets remain under pressure. The yield on the Austrian 10y widened a record 135pbs over Bunds, with lingering concerns over the country's exposure to Eastern Europe. Greek and Spanish 10y issues also widened to record spreads over the Bund at 305bps and 133bps respectively. Gilts have whipsawed between gains and losses in a volatile session, with negative sentiment from press reports stating the UK AAA rating could be under threat mitigated somewhat by revelations from the BoE on QE. In corporates, Roche announced plans to issue a 6 part USD denominated offering to help fund its Genentech purchase.

- In Energy: Algeria's oil minister noted that an output cut is more likely if oil prices fall sharply below $40/bbl || Statoil [STL.NO] Scrapped a NOK3.8B project for the replacement of flowlines in the gas wells of the Troll A platform. Cited lower natuarl gas prices and rising costs for the decision

- Credit Crisis: UK Telegraph article wrote that Britain's AAA credit rating threatened by scale of bank bail-out. Article noted that S&P indicated it might have to revisit the rating in evidence before the Treasury Select Committee last month. Article noted that under questioning, Barry Hancock, head of European corporate ratings, said S&P had confirmed the UK's status on the assumption that "up to approximately 20% of GDP in the form of bank assets could be problematic in the future". The annual economic output running at £1.40T 20% would equate to £280B. However, it has since emerged that the Treasury is preparing to ring-fence about £400B of "toxic" bank debt - or 29pc of GDP - to draw a line under the financial crisis. Article states that a ratings downgrade or a shift to "negative watch" could be devastating for the Government's planned economic stimulus package.

*** NOTES ***

- Risk aversion remains on the agenda as Eastern Europe and widening EU spreads remain on the front burner. UK Sovereign downgrade concerns offset by BOE moving up quantitative easing plans. European equity markets declined for a third session lower commodity prices dragged down basic-resource companies and automakers slumped. U.S. index futures advanced

- Obama mortgage remediation program due and traders noting that US automaker problems seem to defy solvability.

- Looking Ahead:

- 7:00 (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Feb 13th: No expectations v -24.5% prior

- 8:30 (CA) Dec Wholesale Sales M/M: -2.0% expected v -1.6% prior

- 8:30 (US) Import Price Index M/M: -1.2% expected v -4.2% prior; Y/Y: -11.2% expected v -9.3% prior

- 8:30 (US) Jan Housing Starts: 529k expected v 550k prior

- 8:30 (US) Jan Building Permits: 525k expected v 547k prior

- 9:15 (US) Jan Industrial Production: -1.5% expected v -2.0% prior

- 9:15 (US) Capacity Utilization: 72.4% expected v 73.6% prior

- 14:00 (US) FOMC Minutes


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