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Forex Blog - European Market Update: Risk appetite returns over optimism of US Treasury's toxic asset plan; IMF reminds that the global situation remains dire

Today 06:04am EST/10:04am GMT

European Market Update: Risk appetite returns over optimism of US Treasury's toxic asset plan; IMF reminds that the global situation remains dire


- (JP) Japan Feb Convenience Store Sales Y/Y: -5.4% v 7.0% prior

- (JP) Japan Land Prices Nationwide Dec 31: -3.5% v 1.7% prior

- (SZ) Swiss Feb Money Supply M3 Y/Y: 4.1% v -1.5%e

- (CZ) Czech Jan Industrial Output Y/Y: -23.3% v -19.0%e

- (DE) Danish March Consumer Confidence Indicator: -11.7 v -10.8e

- (EU) Euro-Zone Jan Trade Balance: -€10.5B v -€9.0Be; Trade Balance SA: -€-5.5B v -€1.9Be

- 6:00 (EU) Euro-Zone Jan Construction Output M/M: 1.3% v -2.8% prior; WDA Y/Y: -9.1% v -10.1% prior


- Equities Barclays [BARC.UK], private equity firm Hellman & Friedman is seeking to arrange a consortium that might bid for the company's iShares unit, the total offer could be worth as much as $5B - London Times. Hellman now seen as leading bidder. The article stated that bank was hoping to have preliminary outline of deal completed ASAP in order to use the calculations from the sale in its talks with the UK treasury regarding the APS. Note: On 3/17, the WSJ noted that the unit could be sold for £4B-£5B, which would imply an earning multiple in the teens. || Rio Tinton [RIO.UK], the FT comments on the proposed transaction between the company and Chinalco. The article notes that, if Rio Tinto's share price continues to rise it could give the company the flexibility needed to consider other options to the Chinalco deal. Additioanly, some board members and shareholders have started to view the Chinalco deal as an option needed only if there are no better alternatives. It has been reported that Chinalco could be given seats on up to three key boards at the firm. || Legal and General[ LGEN.UK], the company may lower its final dividend by 17% - Sunday Telegraph. The company may seek to cut its dividend when it reports its results on March 25. Currently the company's current 12-month dividend yield is 14.3%. || Marks and Spencer [MKS.UK] some of the company's directors are seeking to split the CEO and Chairman positions - London Times. Institutional investors fearing combined position of executive chairman and chief executive is to powerful. Reminder: Last year, approx 22% of voters abstained or voted against Stuart Rose being elected executive chairman. || BAA [FER.SP], If Gatwick and Stansted airports are sold at fire sale prices, it could lead to BAA breaching its banking covenants - London Times. According to BAA's debt financing covenants, no asset can be sold for less than 85% of its regulated value. BAA seeking €1.6B for Gatwick, any price below £1.36B would trigger lending clause on debts of approx £12B. BAA has valued Edinburgh and Glasgow at £800M but analysts see bids of only £350-500M, below the 85% threshold. BAA has valued Stansted at £1.3B with analyst seeing bids at £1B. ||Ceres Energy [CWR.UK] reported its H1 at Op Loss £4.2M v loss £3.3M y/y, Rev £482K v £279K y/y. || Daily Mail [DMGO.UK] provided Interim trading statement: Results for the first half of the year will show a substantial fall from last year's first half year due to a combination of the worsening trading conditions and a change in the timing of profits. The new publisher sees FY Results in line with expectations. It stated UK and European consumer media businesses are having a difficult quarter, although some degree of stabilisation seems to be occurring at the moment and into April. Daily Mail expected to exceed our targeted revenue and cost initiatives of £100M. || Vodafone [VOD.UK], reportedly the operator is planning mobile network assets JV with Telefonica JV to investigate further opportunities for cooperation. Firms are considering joint provisions for transmission services. || Air France [AF.FR], reportedly the air line will make a non-binding bid for stake in Czech Airlines. || Daimler [DAI.GE], Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments plans to invest €1.95B ($2.65B) in the company for a 9.1% stake. Aabar plans to buy 96.4M new Daimler shares at €20.27/share (5% discount to Friday's close). Through the transaction, Aabar will become the top shareholder in Daimler. Reminder Note: Back on Oct 2008, the FT reported that Middle Eastern and Asian investors might seek to invest in Daimler and Daimler's CEO noted that his company was not looking for an anchor investor. || MTU Aero Engines [MTX.GE] reported Q4 at a Net profit €61.1M v €49.1Me, Adj EBITDA €110.7M v €105.8Me, and Rev at €741.4M v €669.2Me. MTU expects FY09 Net profit around €140M, and Rev around €2.8B. The parts maker proposed a FY08 div of €0.93/shr v €0.90e and stated that it intends additional share buybacks. MTU expects trading in 2009 to be difficult on the back of aero-market declines and expects to see a significant decline in sales of parts for business jets Escada [ESC.GE], reportedly the fashion maker is considering a share placement to close €30M funding gap -Euro am Sonntag. Article cites comments from CEO Bruno Saelzer. ||

- Speakers IMF Strauss Kahn commented that the global situation remained dire and there was a chance for civil unrest and possibly wars. He urged to prevent increase in unemployment and added that the crisis might return millions to poverty. Withdrawal of emerging market funds poses a risk || PBoC's Zhou commented that a creation of non-sovereign reserve currency is ideal and can help reduce volatility. He stated that the IMF special drawing rights (SDR's) have potential to be non sovereign currency and an expansion of SDR issuance should be explored. He did comment that such a currency would be a 'long term goal' || Chinese Vice Foreign Min Official Yafei commented that he expected progress on the international financial reform. China firmly opposes trade protectionism and seeks that G20 to increase trade assistance to developing nations || China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) : US Treasury purchases are an important part of FX reserves. Notes that credit risk of US treasuries is low, closely watching UST prices || PBoC Vice Governor: Will continue investing in US Treasuries as it remains a key element of FX strategy. However, the official reiterated that they remained concerned about the safety of UST's || Japan Fin Min Sugimoto stated that recent sentiment survey confirmed Japanese economic situation was 'severe'. Govt to prioritize economic stimulus as a result and would keep close tabs on tax revenues || German IMK Institute: lowered its 2009 GDP forecast to -5.0% from -2.4% prior, It forecasted 2010 GDP at +0.2% || Germany''s RWI also cuts its 2009 GDP View To -4.3% Vs -2% Prior || Australia Treasury Sec Swan noted that the global crisis was having a major impact on its economic growth and Australia could not avoid contraction. He noted that both export demand and commodity prices are continue to decline but that the Australian economy was faring better than other countries . Lastly he noted that Australia would return to surplus when GDP stabilizes

- In Currencies: Risk appetite returned and this translated into broad weakness for US dollar and Japanese Yen in the early part of the session. Market has largely ignored any background negatives for the Euro and was being directly influenced by the US Treasury's Public/Private bank toxic asset plan.

- The EUR/USD did drift off its best level of 1.3736 to probe 1.3630 in Europe. Further negative sentiment over Eastern European exposure and other potential problems in euro area countries continue to linger ahead of the April 2nd G20 summit. Chatter circulating that the IMF might halt aid to Latvia due as its “very displeased” with the new government's plans to widen the deficit to 7% of gross domestic product from 5% agreed under the terms of a bailout in January. The softer dollar sentiment helped the commodities as both gold and oil were mildly steady. AUD and CAD firmer against the USD and JPY pairs but off their best levels. Gold Trust holdings of SPDR ETF GLD rose to fresh record highs of 1,114.60 metric tons vs. 1,103 tons prior

- The JPY was broadly weaker against the majors as well. EUR/JPY probed the 132 neighborhood while GBP/JPY held above the 140.00 handle.

- Credit Crisis: Under the plan that will initially provide financing for $500B and potentially be expanded to up to $1T in the future, the established and incentives with low borrowing rates, public-private partnerships will buy real-estate related assets from banks and securities from the broader market. || Russia press reported that the IMF might halt aid to Latvia due to country's widening budget. The Telegraf reported that three U.S. Treasury officials who visited Riga last week said in a meeting with local economists that the IMF is “very displeased” with the new government's plans to widen the deficit to 7% of gross domestic product from 5% agreed under the terms of a bailout in January

- In Energy: Petro-Canada [PCZ] Confirmed being acquired by Suncor [SU] in an all-share transaction; deal valued around C$16.9B || Valero [VLO] Reportedly, CEO Bill Klesse said that the number of refineries in the US may decline if motor fuel demand remains weak ||Russia Energy Min: Reiterate view that country has no economic reason to join OPEC

- In fixed income: With risk assets reacting favorably to some more details of the long awaited Geithner plan, government bonds have been weaker in thin volumes, with higher yields across the curve in both Germany and the UK. The Bank of England will embark upon its third round of quantitative easing later in the session, looking to purchase £2.5B of 10 -25y gilts in reverse auctions.

*** NOTES ***

- The markets await further details of the US Treasury's Public/Private bank toxic asset plan. On paper appears to be a favorable deal for the private investors, assuming banks and private investors can agree on a price

- Several Chinese officials talk up the US Treasury holdings, but still hint of some concerns.

- IMF cautions that financial crisis could morph into a social crisis

- Looking Ahead:

- 8:30 (CA) Canadian Feb Leading Indicators M/M; -0.9% expected v -0.8% prior

- 9:00 (HU) Hungarian Base Rate Announcement: No change expected, Current Base Rate is 9.50%

- 10:00 (US) Feb Existing Home Sales: 4.45M expected v 4.49M prior; Existing Home Sales M/M: -0.9% expected v -5.3% prior

- 10:00 (US) Fed's Rosengren testifies before Congress

- 11:30 (IS) Israeli Base Rate Announcement: 25bps cut to 0.50% expected, current Base Rate is 0.75%


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