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Forex Blog - European market Update: Markets focus on OPEC, EU Finance Minister weekend meeting; SNB action on Thursday was EU sanctioned???

Today 06:03am EST/10:03am GMT

European market Update: Markets focus on OPEC, EU Finance Minister weekend meeting; SNB action on Thursday was EU sanctioned???


- (GE) German Feb Wholesale Price Index M/M: -0.1% v -0.4% prior; Y/Y: 5.7% v -5.9% prior

- (EU) EU 25 New Car Registrations: -18.0% v -26.9% prior

- (FR) French Jan Current Account: -€2.8B v -€1.2B prior

- (SP) Spain Q4 Labor Costs: 5.4% v 5.1% prior

- (SZ) Swiss Feb Producer & Import Prices M/M: -0.6% v -0.2%e; Y/Y: -1.8% v -1.2%e expected v -0.9% prior

- (IT) Italian Q4 Labor Costs Q/Q: 1.0% v 1.2% prior; Y/Y; 3.5% v 6.2% prior

- (CZ) Czech Jan Current Account Monthly: deficit CZK1.52B v surplus CZK0.65Be

- (EU) Euro-zone Q4 Labor Costs Y/Y: 3.8% v 3.6%e

- (EU) Euro-Zone Retail Sales M/M: 0.1% v 0.2%e; Y/Y: -2.2% v -2.3%e


- Equities: Swiss Life [SLHN.SZ] Confirmed holding talks with Talanx group over its 24.3% MLP AG stake. It did note that the discussions were at preliminary stage. Swiss Re [RUKN.SZ] Finalizes terms of convertible perpetual capital instrument with Berkshire Hathaway

- As previously announced, Berkshire Hathaway agreed in principle to make a CHF3.0B investment in Swiss Re || European Aeronautic Defence & Space [EAD.FR] Airbus deliveries to Emirates in 2009 faces delays due to late production according to French press reports || Renovo [RNVO.UK] Juvidex Phase 2 trial did not meet its primary endpoint, but did meet a number of pre-specified secondary endpoints with statistical significance || JD Wetherspoon [Reports H1 Net of £17.3M compared to year-ago level of £18.3M. Revenues were £468.7M versus £440.2M y/y. Its Like-for-like sales rose 1.9% y/y. It reiterated that it would not pay a dividend || Alcatel-Lucent [ALU.FR] CFO commented in a press interview that it expected to see a positive net income in H2 of 2009. || Royal Bank of Scotland [RBS.UK] has sent official sales documents to potential buyers of former ABN AMRO Asian assets -FT. Details for the sale include operations in 12 Asian countries that Bank announced its intention to sell last month. The article state RBS is expected to limit retail and commercial units it China, India, HK, Singapore, Taiwan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia while exiting al operations in Kazakhstan and the UAE. Reportedly, Standard Charter, HSBC and ANZ have been interested in acquiring assets. || Barclays [BARC.UK] participation in APS may force firm to issue new shares to UK government or sell profitable assets - WSJ. Article notes costs of participation in asset protection scheme would be high, and doubts remain as to whether the bank can avoid government ownership or the sale of its asset management arm, BGI, or profitable emerging markets business. Article notes the assets likely to be protected would be less than RBS or Lloyds, as the bank has a "better quality loan book and turned a profit in 2008." Reminder: back on 22 Jan Barclays CEO Varley said his firm would rather pay for the UK govt's asset guarantee plan in cash rather than equity. || Fiat [F.IT] a company spokesperson denied reports of a potential merger of it and Peugeot [UG.FR]. Earlier it had been reported that the firm was ready to reconsider the company's and Peugeot tie up idea - Il sole. Under potential plan, Fiat's production structure to remain the same, management to be centered in Paris and the firm to be led by Marchionne (current Fiat CEO). ||

- Speakers: China PBoC commented that the US Dollar could strengthen during the beginning of 2009, but unclear of direction afterwards. The central bank noted that supportive measures include the propects of risk hedging and US stimulus measures. However the US trade and budget deficits, interest rates could hurt its attractiveness. PBoC saw oil prices rebounding in H2 of the year and gold could go above their recent price peak. The global economy to remain weak in 2009 but that developing countries should play a bigger role. The Global response to economic crisis might lead to a turning point in economy. Lastly PBoC called for reforms of international financial system || ECB's Noyer commented in a FT interview that the ECB had not decided in advance of minimum interest rate level but noted that interest rates less effective the closer they move to ZERO level. He stated that the Eurozone interest rates were closer to US, UK levels then many imaginedbut that the room on additional Deposit Rate action was limited. Lastly he commented that French Q1 GDP might be worse than Bank of France expected || Japan PM Aso commented that Japan was not mulling a supplementary budget at this time || South African Central Bank Gov Mboweni stated that he remained very concerned over the effect in which a global slowdown could have on the domestic economy. Job losses were beginning to be felt across economy on the back of mining and export declines. The central bank would continue with inflation targeting monetary policy regime ||

- In Currencies: In currencies, the focus remained on the recent SNB currency intervention and possible effects/consequences of the action. Dealers noting that perhaps the SNB action on Thursday was EU sanctioned in order to weaken the CHF to the benefit of Eastern European CHF mortgage exposures. Dealers chatter that the 1.4000 area in EUR/CHF cross would a trigger of a potential banking crisis, thus the further away the better. || The firmer global equity markets helped increase risk appetite, which softened the USD and JPY currencies.The USD was on the defensive in early European trading due to comments from Chinese PM Wen that he was “worried” about its holdings of US Treasuries and wanted assurances that the investment were safe. China PboC commented that they expected the US Dollar to strengthen in start of 2009, but unclear of direction afterwards. Risk hedging and US stimulus measures were USD positive factors but the US trade and budget deficits, interest rates could impact its attractiveness. EUR/USD probed the mid 1.29 area before consolidation while the GBP/USD drifted towards 1.41 before encountering some technical resistance.

- Fixed income: Government bonds have exhibited a softer tone this morning with European equitiy indices in positive territory for the fourth successive session. Bunds have underperformed against both European perhipherals and Gilts, with the EuroZone benchmark now around 12bps cheaper than the 10y Gilt, the widest spread between 10y German and UK debt since 2001. Comments from Chinese authorities have weighed on UST's in Asian and European Trade, with T-Note futures down 11 ticks to 121-15 abd T-Bond futures down 13 ticks to 126-02 at the time of writing . In corporates, UniLever is set to issue sterling denominated 5y in benchmark size. Supply from Italy is up next, with the Tesoro d"Italia looking to sell between €5 and €7.5B in medium to long dated BTPs.

- In Energy: China PBoC expected oil prices rebounding in H2 of 2009 || The IEA trimmed its 2009 global demand by 240K bpd in its latest monthly report. It now forecasted 2009 world oil demand at 84.4M bpd compared to 84.7M bpd last month. It stated that OPEC was near 80% compliance with previously announced 4.2M bpd output cuts; which translate into 3.3M bpd output reduction between Sep-Feb period. It saw additional OPEC reductions in March and April period as well. It cut its non-OPEC supply forecast by 360K bpd to 50.6M bpd. The IEA noted that a full 100% OPEC compliance would tighten OECD stocks “quickly”. The IEA no longer expected non-OPEC supply to expand in 2009. Crude Floating storage remained 50M-55M barrels by early March. Refinery processing to remain' weak' in Q1; might rebound in Q2 || Reportedly Turkish warplanes have again been seen bombing Kurdish rebels positions in Northern Iraq

*** NOTES ***

- The G20 finance minister summit this weekend in the UK. Some chatter that the SNB action on Thursday was EU sanctioned in order to weaken the CHF to the benefit of Eastern European CHF mortgage exposures

- Global recession fears not sidetracked but equities pricing in that perhaps the worst is over for now. Nonetheless the data continues to be 'bad'. Singapore Jan retail sales dropped 12.2% y/y and BOJ's Shirakawa talked down the Japanese economy. Risk aversion still has pockets of support as SPDR Gold Trust holdings increased 3.36 tons to record 1,041.53 tons. France Econ Min Lagarde commented that there should be no more EU stimulus plans. She noted that the was being so pessimistic in its outlook for the economy it iwa giving the impression it did not believe in its own stimulus plan.

- Dealers noting that Chinese PM Wen made about 500 comments overnight. FX and fixed-income traders noting China is a bit concerned about safety of Chinese assets in US.

- Looking Ahead:

- 7:00 (CA) Canadian Feb Unemployment Rate: 7.4% expected v 7.2% prior

- 7:00 (CA) Canadian Feb Net Change in Employment: -55.0k expected v -129.0k prior

- 8:00 (BZ) Brazil Jan Retail Sales M/M: 0.1% expected v -0.3% prior; Y/Y: 2.7% expected v 3.9% prior

- 8:30 (CA) Canadian Jan International Merchandise Trade: -C$1B expected v -C$0.5B prior

- 8:30 (US) Jan Trade Balance -$38.0B expected v -$39.9B prior

- 8:30 (US) Import Price Index M/M: -0.7% expected v -1.1% prior; Y/Y: -13.5% expected v -12.5% prior

- 9:00 (PD) Polish Feb CPI M/M: 0.6% expected v 0.5% prior; Y/Y: 3.3% expected v 3.1% prior

- 9:00 (PD) Polish Jan Current Account: -€1.45B expected v -€1.92B prior

- 9:00 (PD) Polish Feb Money Supply M3 M/M: 1.0% expected v 0.4% prior

- 10:00 (US) March Preliminary University of Michigan Confidence Index: 55.0 expected v 56.3 prior

- 10:30 (US) White House's Summers to speak in Washington


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