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Forex Blog - European Market Update: IFO Business Confidence registers its lowest reading on record; bottom to Germany recession not seen yet

Today 05:55am EST/09:55am GMT

European Market Update: IFO Business Confidence registers its lowest reading on record; bottom to Germany recession not seen yet


- (GE) German Jan SA Construction Orders M/M: +3.8%; Y/Y: -22.3% - Bundesbank

- (SP) Spanish Feb Producer Prices M/M: 0.0% v 0.2%e; Y/Y: -1.1% v -0.8%e

- (CZ) Czech March Consumer & Business Confidence: -14.1 v -15.8 prior

- (IT Italian Consumer Confidence: 99.8 v 103.0e

- (SW) Swedish Feb Trade Balance: SEK9.5B v SEK8.5Be

- (GE) German IFO- Bus Climate: 82.1 v 82.2e; Current Assessment: 82.7 v 82.5e; Expectations: 81.6 v 81.5e

- (NO) Norwegian Jan Unemployment Rate (AKU): 3.1% v 3.2%e

- (SA) South African Q4 Current Account: ZAR137.3B v -ZAR175.9Be

- (SA) South African Feb CPI (all items) M/M: 1.2% v 0.7%e; Y/Y: 8.6% v 8.3%e


- Equities: Rio tinto [RIO.UK], Australia's Competition Regulator (ACCC) will not oppose company's stake sale to Chinalco. The ACCC notes transaction will not substantially lower competition. Share traded higher in Sydney and broadly lower in London. || UK grocer Sainsbury [SBRY.UK] provided an Interim statement: Reports Q4 LFL sales ex fuel +6.2% y/y v +5.5% y/y. Sainsbury stated it was seeing some significant changes in the mix of products customers are choosing to buy. Our 'Switch and Save' campaign in January focused on our entry price point range 'basics', sales of which are up over 60% y/y. The grocer saw non-food sales continuing to grow strongly. Chairman: We expect the current economic environment to remain challenging. || Insurer Legal and General [LGEN.UK] reported its FY08 IGD surplus at £1.9B, and its IFRS Op Loss at £189M v £658M y/y. For the insurer, FY08 EEV operating Profit was £870M v £848M y/y, IGD Core Tier 1 Ratio was 3.9% v 7.6% y/y and the final 2008 Dividend was proposed at 4.06p /shr, down from the 5.97p/shr y/y. ||Smiths Group [SMIN.UK] reported its H1 Pretax profit at £135.2M v £209.2Me, and Rev at £1.29B v £1.25Be. The firms CEO stated that orders for European delivery in H1 had been weak and continued to see a difficult H2. Smiths noted that it was on track for FY results in line with forecasts. ||HSBC [HSBA.UK] confirmed UK job cuts of 1,200 positions (less than 1% of global workforce). ||Tui AG [TUI1.GE] reported its FY08 at a Net loss o f€121.3M v loss €11.4Me, and Rev at €18.7B v €19.9Be. Tui stated that it could not provide 2009 guidance due to economic uncertainty and expected container Sappington unit sales to decline in 2009 and tourist operations to remain stable. Firms expects to see stable earnings in its Hapag units and expects annual synergies of £200M with numerous business partners. Tui UK [TT.UK] also reported its Q1 Rev at £2.75B v £2.52B y/y. ||Porsche PAH3.GE: Confirmed that automaker has secured €10B credit line ||Hochtief [hOT.GE] reported its FY08 Net at €175.1M v €155.2Me, and Rev at €19.1B v €18.0Be. The German commercial and home builder declared a final dividend of €1.40 v €1.30/shr y/y. Hochtief puts its Q4 backlog at €30.9B v €32.7B q/q and noted that it expects 2009 orders and revenue to decline y/y. The firm guided its FY09 Net and pretax inline with 2008, but remains cautions on the outlook guiding FY09 CAPEX €780M. Hochtief expects markets to stabilize in 2010. ||Banco Populare [BP.IT] reported its Q4 at a Net loss of €855.1M v profit €63Me, Net interest income at €604.2M, and Net Commissions €239.4M. The Italian bank put its FY08 Net loss at €333M v profit €321.5Me (unclear if comp) and guided its Core Tier 1 Ratio of 8% (pro forma). The bank noted it had Q4 Impairment charges of €1.36B and expects that the bank could reflect further writedowns on the back of Lehman and Iceland assets. Populare confirmed that the bank will not pay final FY08 dividend (as expected). || Gazprom [GAZP.RU] is reportedly in talks with state banks to raise funding for 20% buyback of GazpromNeft and Russian gas options. The Russian gas giant is seeking to buy stakes back from Italian firm ENI in early April, 2009. ENI holds a 20% stake in Gazprom neft (948M shares). ||Industrai de Diseno [ITX.SP], the parent company of Zara Reported its FY08 Net profit at €1.25B v €1.23Be and Rev at €10.41B v €9.54Be. The retailer proposed a final dividend of €1.05/shr which was flat y/y. Firm noted that it expected to see another challenging year for the sector but expects to continue outperforming it this year and that it will take advantage of opportunities presented by current environment. The firm guided FY09 CAPEX at €600M and plans to save €75M in costs this year. The retailer put its FY08 Gross Margin at 56.8% and reported its H2 LFL -0.7% v +1.0% in H1. The brand plans to open between 370-450 stores this year; 95% of new store openings will be outside Spain. ||

- Speakers: ECB's Gonzalez-Paramo observed that 2009 would be defined by a severe adjustment while 2010 was the year of 'gradual' economic recovery. Can expect results from upcoming G20 meeting in UK; but must be realistic about the G20 overall as G20 was a forum for commitments, not an executive committee. || EU's Juncker stated that EU was not planning to increase stimulus plans on demand of US. He added a bit of pessimism to the global outlook when he noted that a 'timid recovery' near end of 2010 . He stressed the need for general financial oversight regulations following G-20 summit || PBoC Adviser Fan Gang: China suffered 'quite badly' from USD standard system || BoJ Governor Shirakawa commented that the BoJ was not considering direct purchases of JGB's nor considering buying new JGB issues || IFO commented that companies were not expecting any sharp improvement in conditions and that the bottom of the economy cycle has yet to be reached. The IFO noted that retailers have grown more pessimistic || IFO's Nerb: Expects ECB to cut rates by 50bps but they really should cut by 100bps to 0.50% level. Nerb noted that the expectation portion of the data series signal turning point ahead with stimulus showing impact by Q3 || Italian Industry Minister reportedly stated that the EU planned a €1.5B fund to guarantee up to €80B in and that Italy to increase fund to guarantee loans for small businesses ||

- In Currencies: The GBP was mildly softer in the session. BOE's King comment yesterday that the UK could not afford any more stimulus plans took the wind from the recent bullish sentiment.. GBP sentiment also weighed down by a corporate report that the volume of UK mortgage debt was currently running at an "unmanageable" 86% of GDP--equating to about £1.2T, according to an annual world retail banking report. The report recommends 60% as a sustainable upper level.

- Euro-related currency pairs continue to be hampered by the no confidence voted in the Czech Republic late yesterday. Telegraph pointed put that Article noted that the economic crisis sweeping Central and Eastern Europe has claimed a third victim in a month after the Czech government lost a vote of no confidence on Tuesday night in a drama that risks setting off a fresh round of investor flight from the region. EUR/USD probed towards the 1.3400 level where 'large' euro sell stop orders lurked below. 1.3400 area was the first wave of Euro support following the FED's Quantitative easing last Wednesday. The IFO data came in roughly in line and failed to boost any bearish momentum in the Euro-related pairs.

- the JPY was former in the session as it balance the fiscal year-end flows and chatter regarding Japanese pension funds allocating money to new managers for foreign equity allocation. At this time the repatriation flows have the edge. USD/JPY at 97.70 level, down about 60 pips from its Asian opening levels.

- Fixed income: Some major corporate names announced plans to tap European debt markets this morning Diversified minerals producer BHP is planning 3 and 7y Euro denominated bonds in a benchmark offering with pricing indicated at 260bps over swaps and 330bps over swaps respectively. JPMorgan will reportedly pay 350bps over swaps in its 5y euro denominated issue, whilst French aerospace manufacturer Thales will issue €600M in 4y bonds priced at just 190bps over swaps. Government bonds have been on the defensive this morning with stronger equities and supply on the way. Germany is set to sell up to €7B in a new 5y 2.25% BOBL, the UK is looking to sell £1.75B in 4.25% 2049's and $34B in new 5 Notes are on sale later in the New York afternoon

- In Energy: PBOC's Zhou: China's oil and gas shortage to persist for foreseeable future || Statoil [STL.NO] Announces oil discovery south of Snorre Field in North Sea. The find estimated at 4M standard cubic meters of recoverable oil.

- Credit Crisis: IMF to provide Romania with €13B loan with EBRD to provide €1B , further assistance expected from World Bank and EU || Russian Fin Min Kudrin commented that no plans to restrict capital flows. Government remains cautious about creating bad bank in Russia but the banking crisis was not as severe as the one occurring in US. He noted that Russia would address toxic assets on case by case basis || Fitch: Turkish corporate sector confronts increased refinancing risk this year

*** NOTES ***

- German IFO data in line with expectations, but notes companies are not expecting marked improvement.

- Growing optimism on the equity front as several analyst calling for constructive equity H2

- China's Central Bank advisor noted that Chinese economy has likely hit bottom. Deflation the issue for China at this time nut noted inflation would be a longer-term issue.

- But some pessimism remains. Japan registered its trade surplus in five months but the result obtained by all the wrong reasons. Japan exports plunged by almost 50% in January. Both imports and exports declined by a record amount since records started back in 1980. Exports to the US fell by a record amount as well.

- Fed starts to buy Treasuries, BoE starts to buy GBP corp bonds today.

- US President Obama affirmed support for the dollar at a press conference at the White House in Washington and noted that he did not believe there was the need for a global currency

- Looking Ahead:

- 7:00 (UK) UK CBI March Distributive Trades

- 7:00 (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e March 20th: No expectations v 21.2% prior

- (PD) Polish Base Rate Announcement: 25bps cut to 3.75% expected; current Base Rate is 4.00%

- 8:30 (US) Feb Durable Goods Orders: -2.5% expected v -4.5% prior

- 8:30 (US) Durables Ex Transportation: -2.0% expected v -3.0% prior

- 9:00 (NO) Norwegian Deposit Rates: 50bps cut to 2.00% expected; current Deposit Rate is 2.50%

- 10:00 (US) Feb New Home Sales: 300K expected v 309K prior, M/M: -2.9% expected v -10.2% prior

- (UK) March Nationwide House Prices M/M; -1.5% expected v -18% prior; Y/Y: -18.15 expected v -17.6% prior


- 6:10 (SW) Sweden to sek SEK3.5B 5.25% 2011 Bonds

- 6:15 (GE) Germany to sell up to €7B 2.25% 2014 Bobls

- 6:30 (UK) DMO to sell £1.75B 4.25% 2049 Bonds

- 13:00 (US) Treasury to sell $34B in new 5y Notes


- 9:15 (US) Tsy Sec Geithner spears before Council of Foreign Relations

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


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