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Wednesday February 25, 2009 - 11:06:43 GMT
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Forex Blog - European Market Update: S&P Sovereign Head: expects most AAA countries to withstand turmoil - Does not expect defaults or break-up scenario within Euro Zone; Sterling slips after largest

Today 05:59am

European Market Update: S&P Sovereign Head: expects most AAA countries to withstand turmoil - Does not expect defaults or break-up scenario within Euro Zone; Sterling slips after largest annual UK GDP contraction since 1980


- (TH) Thailand Central bank cuts its Benchmark interest Rate by 50bps to 1.50%; as expected

- (GE) German Dec Real Construction Orders NSA Y/Y: -11.8%

- (GE) German Q4 Final GDP Q/Q: -2.1% v -2.1%e; Y/Y: -1.7% v -1.7%e; NSA Y/Y:-1.6% v -1.6%e

- (GE) Q4 Final Imports: -3.6% v -1.4%e; Exports: -7.3% v -5.4%e

- (SP) Spanish Jan Producer Prices M/M: 0.4% v -0.1%e; Y/Y: -0.6% v-1.6%e

- (CZ) Czech Feb Consumer Confidence: -27.5 v -25.8 prior; Business Confidence: -12.8 v -9.2 prior; Consumer & Business confidence: -15.8 v -12.5 prior

- (SW) Swedish Feb Economic Tendency Survey: 72.0 v 71.7e; Consumer Confidence: -14.6 v -16.9e; Manufacturing Confidence: -35 v -36e

- (IT) Italian Dec Retail Sales M/M: 0.0% v 0.0%e; Y/Y: -1.9% v -1.7%e; 2008 Full year avg adj retail sales Y/Y: -0.6% (largest annual decline since 1997 when series began)

- (NO) Norwegian Dec Unemployment Rate (AKU): 3.0% v 3.1%e

- (UK) Q4 Preliminary GDP Q/Q: % v -1.6%e; Y/Y: % v -1.9%e; largest annual decline since 1980

- (UK) Dec Index of Services 3M/3M: -0.9% v -1.0%e

- (SA) South African Jan CPI M/M:0.4% v -0.3%e; Y/Y: 8.1% v 7.5%e


- Equities: Cadbury [CBRY.UK] Reported it FY08 Net profit of £364M below the forecast of £390M. Its revenues also missed at £5.4B compared to expectations of £5.76Be. Its 2008 organic sales growth came in at 7%. Cadbury guided FY09 Rev at the low end of +4% to 6% range compared to estimates of £6.14B. Its FY08 Underlying Margin was 150 Basis Points higher and expected good progress on FY09 to improvements in margin goals. It did note that it saw 2009 Input costs seen rising by 6% To 8%. Overall the company noted it had good growth across all categories and is well positioned as a focused confectionery business but not immune from continued weak economic environment. It did note a strong financial position with secure Long-Term financing. || Logica [LOG.UK] Reports FY08 Adj Op Profit of £267M above the £221M estimates. Revenues were £3.59B slightly above the £3.51B forecasts. It expected first half revenue to be in line with 2008 on a constant currency basis. Adjusted operating margin up to 7.5%, in line with guidance. Remianed Confident of our ability to outperform the IT services market in 2009 ||Accor [AC.FR] Reported FY08 Net profit of €575M below consensus of €618M. Its operating profit came in at €875M also missing estimates of €958.3M. Revenues were €7.74B in line with forecasts of €7.74B. The company offered no outlook for FY09 citing the macro environment remained difficult. It did noted that its EBITAR margin increased by 100bps to 29.6% || Telekom Austria [TKA.AS] Reported Q4 Net loss of €437.7M slightly above the loss €481M expected. Revenues were €1.31B in line with estimates. It guided FY09 EBITDA of about €1.9B compared to consensus of €1.90B with revenues of about €5.1B versus forecasts of €5.16B. || Air France [AF.FR] La tribune reported that the company was studying possible Czech Airlines privatization in which the Czech government hoped to raise about €176M by selling its 92% stake || Henkel [HEN3.GE] Reported Q4 Net (adj) €249M better than the €206M estimates. Its revenues of €3.54B were slightly below the €3.63B consensus. It left its dividend unchanged at €0.53/share. Its 2008 organic growth was 3% and guided 2009 organic sales as outperforming the market || Barratt [BDEV.UK] Reported H1 Pretax loss £80.0M versus a profit £201.8M y/y. It revenues were £1.26B compared to sinle analyst estimate of £966.0M. H1 completion came in at 6,905 compared to 9, 056 y/y and the average selling price declined to £160.7K from £178.0K y/y (reflecting a significant increase in the level of discounting, particularly in the last quarter, but also changes in site and product mix). Its operating margin 1.3% v 16.6% y/.y || Tomkins [TOMK.UK] Reported FY08 Op profit of $328.4M inline with $338.2M estimates. Revenues of $5.52B slightly above the $5.47B forecast. It slashed its final dividend to $0.1302/share from $0.2768/share. Economic conditions in our end markets continued to deteriorate through 2008 and accelerated towards the end of the year. Considering closing 15 plants including 4 in Europe, and could affect around 2.5K employees || ISAE lowerd Italy's 2009 GDP forecast to -2.5% v +0.2% prior view

- Speakers: ECB's Ordonez commented that the Spanish economy was currently at a sensitive point. He expected the recession to be significant. He commented that Jan private sector credit rose 6% y/y but that the growth was distorted by use of old credit lines and added that the Spanish credit growth was slowing faster than rest of EU || ECB's Weber noted that the situation in money market remained tight. He warned against 'hasty moves' on regulation from political members. Central banks must discuss liquidity exit strategy the lack of confidence remained the main problem in financial markets and there were no alternatives to governments stimulus packages. ECB's role as central counterparty in money markets cannot continue in long run. Crisis required wide range of state intervention in markets as self-healing is insufficient || German Debt agency comments on issuance, notes strong demand for short dated debt, could avoid issuing linkers if there is no taxpayer benefit. -It noted that a rising bond supply situation does not risk any funding shortfall and would focus on short-term debt if borrowing needs increase || Sweden's Riksbank minutes showed that its members voted unanimously for 100bs rate cut to 1.0% at its Feb 11th monetary meeting. The central bank noted that economic downturn was worse than previous thought back in Dec and unusually uncertain at this time. The Baltic countries are the source of uncertainty. It commented that the weaker Krona currency (SEK) would lessen decline in economic growth and that CPI would fall very quickly in 2009. It foresaw demand recovery when financial system is back in order and added that the global fiscal measures would help ensure economic recovery || S&P Sovereign Ratings Chief commented that: World remains largely in 'powerful' downturn and expected most AAA countries to withstand economic turmoil. He did not expect defaults within the Euro-Zone nor foresaw any break-up scenario of its membership. S&P added that markets have the ability to absorb increased debt issuances.|| Bank of Japan's Shirakawa: Need to be careful that banks capital requirements do not harm the overall economic cycle

- In Currencies: The USD/JPY pair tested above the 97 handle in earlier Europe before consolidating. Dealers noticed that recent JPY weakness over the past few session might be attributed to over-hedged Japanese exporters who sold JPY. Earlier in Asia Japan's Jan exports fell by almost 50% y/y with record slides in shipments to the United States, Europe and the rest of Asia pointing to a deepening recession across much of the world. The WSJ's "Heard on the Street" column discussed that the yen's status as a haven currency is declining. And that a shift is a turnaround could be the start of bad news for yen bulls. The article noted that according to an industry group, foreign assets held by Japanese investment trusts have fallen by $118B in the past year. It noted the break down in the correlation between the rising yen and falling stocks. Despite the weaker equities and rise in the VIX index, the yen has fallen to a 12 week low against the dollar. The article comments on Japan's weakening economy and lack of credible political leadership. || The GBP saw its earlier gains erode following the UK GDP data for Q4. The 1.9% contraction was the largest annual decline since 1980. GBP/USD fell by over 100 pips post data to test 1.4475 ahead of the NY morning. The pair was testing 1.46 level during the Asian session. Overall dealers noting that price action was dominated by cross-currents.

- Fixed income: German Fin Ministry: Will need to borrow €323B in 2009 v €213B in 2008. The Ministry noted that a Flight to liquidity has helped Bund sales || French Debt Chief expected 2009 borrowing to reach €330B v €270B prior year. It saw almost a ZERO risk of default from Euro-Zone member states

- In Energy: Iran stated that the construction stage of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was over, and was now in its pre-commissioning stage. Iran noted that the Bushehr tests would use 'virtual,' not nuclear fuel (Lead is used instead of nuclear fuel). **Reminder: Russia started deliveries of nuclear fuel for the plant in late 2007. Washington and Moscow noted that such deliveries have removed any need for Iran to have its own uranium enrichment program. Moscow stated that Iran would return all spent fuel rods to Russia || Gazprom [GAZP.RU] Seeking to sign gas exploration contract with Nigeria by March, 2009 . Firm actively seeking to expand operations in Africa, has targeted Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Nigeria

*** NOTES ***

- Equity markets remained positive into the NY morning. Traders noting that Bernanke's testimony yesterday was well received and President's Obama speech to Congress did no harm. || European officials continue to express opinions that one cannot imagine a potential Euro-Zone breakup. S&P Sovereign head echoed that sentiment and expected most AAA countries to withstand turmoil and did not expect defaults or break-up scenario within Euro Zone. || Iran noted its Bushehr nuclear power plant test has begun but will only use 'virtual' fuel during its testing phase. || Japan saw a record drop in exports and one of the factors in the recent JPY weakness as the country's exporters were overhedged on their currency positions (thus demand to sell JPY). || UBS Erroneously placed a ¥3 Trillion Yen Order after system error (okyo Stock Exchange's ToSTNeT system canceled the trade at no cost to co.)

- Looking Ahead: Bernanke again today before the House

- 7:00 (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Feb 20th : No expectations v 45.7% prior

-10 :00 (US) Jan Existing Home Sales: 4.79M expected v 4.74M prior; M/M: 1.1% expected v 6.5% prior

- 10:00 (US) Fed Chairman Bernanke testifies before US House

- (PD) Polish Base Rate Announcement: 25bps cut to 4.00% expected; the current Base Rate is 4.25%

- 1:00 (US) Treasury to sell $32B 5y Notes



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