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Forex Blog - European Market Update: UK Construction PMI viewed as a "harbinger of doom"; Euro currency option barrier seen at 1.25 to 1.30 range

Today 05:58am EST/10:58am GMT

European Market Update: UK Construction PMI viewed as a "harbinger of doom"; Euro currency option barrier seen at 1.25 to 1.30 range


- (NO) Norway Q1 Consumer Confidence: -11.1 v -13.3 prior

- (SZ) Swiss Q4 GDP Q/Q: -0.3% v -0.8%e; Y/Y: -0.6 v -0.1%e

- (GE) German Jan Wholesale Price Index M/M: -0.45 v -2.0%e; Y/Y: -5.9% v -6.4%e; The Y/Y decline was largest since at the 1989 reunification

- (NO) Norway Feb PMI: 36.4 v 40.2e

- (SP) Spain Feb Unemployment Rate: 154.1K v 198.8K prior

- (SP) Spain Consumer Confidence: 48.6 v 50.1 prior

- (UK) Feb PMI Construction: 27.8 v 34.2e; lowest reading on record

- (GE) German Feb New Car Registrations at 277.7K, up 21% y/y - VDIK



Standard and Charter reported [STAN.UK] FY08 Net $3.41B ahead of the $3.1B expectations and Operating Income at $14B compared to $11B reported year on year. Standard's ROE stood at 15.2% v 16.2% reported year on year. Tier 1 capital ratio was 7.6% v 6.6% reported year on year with the firms total assets put at $435B up from $330B in 2007. Additionally the firm noted that it is continuing to de-risk its asset book, positioning it well to confront challenges arising from uncertain environment. || Munich Re [MUV2.GE] Reported Q4 Net profit €133M v 95.5Me, Op profit €844M v €648Me. Gross premiums written €9.71B, drops FY09 and FY10 guidance || Kuehn & Nagel [KNIN.SZ] Reported FY08 Net CHF585M slightly below estimates of CHF596M. Its revenues came in slight better at CHF21.6B compared to consensus of CHF20.3B. The company gave no indications that would economy will recover quickly and expected volume reductions in all units. It would implement rigorous cost management and efficiencies || Bayer [BAY.GE] Reported Q4 Net profit of €106M below consensus of €192.M. with revenues of €7.92B slightly above forecast of €7.86B. It guided FY09 revenues of €32B compared to expectations of €33.1B. Its Adj EBITDA margin to decline by 5% versus prior expectations of an increase citing that slump in demand for its plastics and foams overshadowed growth at its drugs unit.. It guided 2009 CAPEX at €1.5B || CRH [CRH] Reported FY09 Pretax profit of €1.63B slightly above €1.60B estimates. Revenues were €20.89B and in line with €20.88B forecast. It announced a 2 for 7 discounted rights issue of 152M ordinary shares at €8.40/shr. It stated that its outlook for 2009 was extremely challenging ||Groupe Danone [BN.FR] US Court stated that company should pursue claims against Hangzhou Wahaha Group in China || Galenica [GALN.SZ] Acquired Sun Store pharmacy chain but the financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed. Sun Store operates 100 shops throughout Switzerland. || UCB [UCB.BE] Reported FY08 Net profit of €314M after items and above estimates of €259.9M. Its revenues were €3.6B better than €3.22B forecast. It guided FY09 Net profit to exceed €130M versus current consensus of €233.9M with revenues to reach €3.3B compared to estimates of €2.93B. The company noted that Intellectual property settlement offsetting the loss of patent protection for key drugs. || Gartner: 17M less phones in Cellphone inventory in Q4; Demand not stabilizing in 2009. The report noted that Samsung, LG won market share in Q4 || Barry Callebaut [BARN.SZ] Signed an MoU with Natra to combine European consumer chocolate businesses and would transfer Stollwerck unit to Natra. It would now focus on core industrial business and expected to sell at least 85K tons/yr chocolate to Natra. Deal expected to close by summer of 2009, subject to long-term funding and Financial terms not disclosed || Meggitt [MGGT.UK] Reported FY08 Pretax £243.3Mabv £212.7Me, Rev £1.16B above estimates of £1.08B. it would reduce 15% of civil sector workforce and expected 2009 revenues to be close with 2008 levels || Wood group [WG.UK] Reported FY08 Pretax $384.1M slight below the $397M consensus. Revenues were $5.24B above $5.18B forecast. It noted that its Group EBITA margin came in at 8.4% compared to 7.2% y/y with margin improvements in all three divisions. Its final dividend was raised by 29% to $0.09/shr || Puma [PUM.GE] CFO Dieter Bock resigned due to personal reasons. The company also appointed Klaus Bauer to assume newly created position of COO, effective Aug 1st || Volkswagen [VOW.GE] CEO of Audi Unit stated that Feb global cars sales came in at 63K, which was down 11% y/y. Audi unit production cuts reflected expectation of 10% sales decline in 2009. Remember that Volkswagen reported its FY08 during yesterdays trading session, revenues were €113.8B ahead of the €112.18B expected. The firm noted at that time that refinancing costs would serve as a drag on future 09 profits and that FY09 guidance could not be provided due to the lack of visibility || BMW [BMW.GE] stated that in 2008 it had cut 4K positions and saw a further decline of 1K jobs in 2009 through natural attrition. BMW reaffirmed that it was in discussions with Fiat [F.IT]. Firm noted that it saw a savings of €500M due to lower labor costs in 2009. || Hypo real estate [HRX.GE] Its DEPFA funding IV LP would not pay next coupon on €500M preferred securities which was slated for March 21st||

- Speakers: EU's Almunia commented that it could seek second stimulus package if first stimulus did not have desired effect. He noted that it was too soon to estimate impact of first stimulus || China's PBoC Vice Gov reiterated confidence of achieving 8% GDP target in 2009. -To watch economy before deciding whether to cut interest rates further He noted that purchasing US Treasuries remained an option for China. Fighting deflation is an essential worldwide task an and a bigger concern at this time but must combat both inflationary and deflationary pressures || China Commerce Ministry stated that China Feb exports did not show recovery and that the drop in exports and imports were worse than January. The stable Yuan allows for small fluctuations in its rate and added that he did not see any trend in modest Yuan depreciation || BoJ Gov Shirakawa reiterated that Japan's economic situation was 'severe' and deteriorating faster than previously expected || French PM Fillon: Impossible to predict end of global crisis, downturn to be long and recovery difficult. He reiterated the view that 2009 French GDP could contract in a range of -1.0% to -1.5% (Note: Consistent with Econ Min Lagarde's forecast of -1.5% given on March 3rd). The PM stated that no stimulus can avert economic crisis and that Gov't can not manage companies. Thus there are no magic remedies in the current gobal crisis. The strategy must take into account public debt and saw public deficit above 5% of GDP this year but hoped to return to 3% deficit beyond 2012 || OECD Chief Economist stated that Eastern Europe could confront an' economic havoc' comparable to the Asian crisis experienced in late 1990s. Noted it is hard to accelerate euro accession plan for the East but a 'fast track' to euro can be devised once crisis ends but the current quarter might likely be the 'worst' yet. OECD Chief Gurria reiterated the view that the economic crisis was becoming worse.

- In Currencies: The session saw a spat of risk appetite briefly return Some desks saw the Australian central bank decision to hold interest rates steady as a “buy carry trade” signal which help weaken the USD and JPY pairs and propel European equities initially higher. The EUR/USD tested the 1.2680 level before retreating. Currency dealers initially suggested that the RBA decision to leave its cash rate unchanged at 3.25% helped perhaps stiffen Trichet's backbone a bit ahead of the ECB rate decision later this week. There is also chatter of a 1.2500 to 1.3000 option barrier in effect with expiration set for March 10th. Dealer noting that the inability of the EUR/USD to break below the 1.25 on Sunday during the Wellington open cemented this option viewpoint || The USD/CAD was around the 1.29 level for fresh 3-month highs ahead of the BOC interest rate decision. The market looking for a 50bps rate cut to 0.50% ||

- Fixed income: Tensions in credit markets have perhaps been best exemplified by the iTraxx crossover index, which touched an all time high above 1,125bps this morning. Government bonds pared early losses as a sell off in equities quickly took hold. In the UK, the DMO tapped £3.75B of the 3.25% 2011 Gilts with strong results , however with continued short end out performance in the UK yield curve, traders will be looking to tomorrow's 2039 auction for a better indication of appetite for UK debt . Ahead of tomorrow's interest rate decisions, and with unfunded Gilt purchases by the BoE now largely seen as inevitable, dealers have focused on unconfirmed reports suggesting the ECB is considering enacting its own asset purchase program and quantitative easing. In peripheral markets Austria announced plans to sell €1.65B in a new 5 year issue and Greece confirmed plans to issue a new 10y bond as speculated, with supply pushing yields spreads wider. In corporate supply, Deutcshe Bahn announced plans to offer €500B - €1B in a new benchmark 10y offering, with pricing indicated at 160bps over swaps.

- In Energy: Iran Oil Minister commented that OPEC to propose "solution" to improve oil prices at its march 15th meeting. The minister also reiterated that its members must remain committed to prior output cuts || Gazprom [GAZP.RU] Reported Q3 Net RUB131.7B below single forecast of RUB149B. Revenues were RUB829.7B below estimate of RUB989.4B. || Ukraine's Naftogaz says has funds to pay Feb gas imports from Russia

- Credit Crisis: UK Chancellor Darling may reportedly use quantitative easing measures and also anticipated that more financial institutions will use the government's Asset Protection Scheme, which insures against losses arising from toxic assets || China Feb New bank loans M/M: CNY1.10T v CNY1.62T prior month

*** NOTES ***

- The equity markets were mildly higher during the European morning. Some desks saw the Australian central bank decision to hold interest rates steady as a “buy carry trade” signal which help weaken the USD and JPY pairs and boost equities. However, the UK Construction PMI data reminded traders tat the global economic scenario remains fragile. iTraxx Crossover spreads continue to hit fresh all-time Wide Levels throughout the course of the day.

- Chinas Vice Central Bank Gov: Treasuries still important for China currency reserve management.

- The Bank of Canada will have its interest rate decision this morning. Consensus expectation is for a 50bps cut from 1.0% to 0.50%.

- Geithner testifies today, Wed and Thu. Some bank bailout details expected

- Looking Ahead:

- 8:00 (US) Fed's Lockhart speaks in Tampa

- 9:00 (CA) Bank of Canada Interest Rate Decision: 0.50% expected v 1.00% prior

- 10:00 (US) Jan Pending Homes Sales: -3.5% expected v 6.3% prior

- 10:00 (US) Fed Chairman Bernanke testifies before Senate Budget committee in Washington

- 10:00 (TU) Turkey Feb Consumer prices: M/M: 0.3% expected v 0.3% prior; Y/Y: 8.4% expected v 9.5% prior

- 10:00 (TU) Turkey Feb Producer prices: M/M: 0.4% expected v 0.2% prior; Y/Y: 5.7% expected v 7.9% prior


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