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Forex Blog - European Market Update: China says economic slowdown under control; Currency markets await possible SNB 'surprise'

Today 06:17am EST/10:17am GMT

European Market Update: China says economic slowdown under control; Currency markets await possible SNB 'surprise'


- (TT) Taiwan Central Bank leaves Benchmarkinterest rate unchanged at 1.25%; Not Expected (Was expected to cut by 25bps to 1.00%)

- (RU) Russian Gold & Forex Reserve w/e March 20th: $385.3B v $376.1B prior - largest increase in 2009

- (GE) German Apr GFK Consumer Confidence Survey: 2.4 v 2.5e

- (FR) French March Consumer Confidence Indicator: -43 v -44e

- (SZ) SNB Monetary Policy Report:

- (SP) Spain Jan Mortgages on Houses Y/Y: -43.5% v -31.7% prior; Mortgages -capital loaned Y/Y; -42.2% v -24.0% prior

- (HK) Hong Kong Feb Trade Balance: -HK$23.2B v -HK$4.5Be; Exports Y/Y: -23.0% v -20.0%e; Imports Y/Y: -17.5% v -21.7%e

- (DE) Denmark Feb Unemployment Rate: 2.5% v 2.5%e

- (IT) Italian Bus Confidence: 59.8 v 63.0e

- (SW) Swedish Feb Household Lending Y/Y: 8.6% v 8.6% prior

- (NV) Dutch Q4 Final GDP Q/Q: -1.0% v -0.9%e; Y/Y: -0.6% v 0.6%e

- (IT) Italian Feb Trade Balance Non-EU: -€722M v -€3.98B prior

- (EU) Euro-Zone Feb M3 Y/Y: 5.9% v 5.5%e; 3 Mth Average: 6.5% v 6.3%e

- (UK) Q4 Final Total Business Investment Q/Q: -1.5% v -3.9%e; Y/Y: -4.5% v -7.7%e

- (UK) Feb Retail Sales M/M: -1.9% v -0.4%e; Y/Y: 0.4% v 2.5%e

- (SA) South African Feb PPI M/M: -0.3% v -0.1%e; Y/Y: 7.3% v 7.5%e


- Equities:

Kingfisher [KGF.UK] reported its FY08 Adj profit at £368M v £364Me, and Rev at £10.03B v £10.0Be. The retailer is seeking to reduce overall costs by 1% y/y and to reduce gross capital investment to be by a further £300M. Kingfisher anticipates 2009 to continue to be very challenging stating that its comprehensive China repositioning is underway noting that its store portfolio to be rationalized from 63 to 41 and all remaining stores revamped. || UK clothing retailer Next [NXT.UK] reported its FY08 Pretax at £428.8M v £498.1M y/y, and Rev at €3.3B v €3.3Be. Next to maintain its final dividend at 55p/shr while guiding H1 SSS down 6% to 9% y/y, Directory sales down 2% to flat, Op Margin at -3%. Next expects like-for-like sales for full year with H1 to be particularly difficult and FY08 Retail Sales -2.5% , like-for like sales -6.1%. The firm put its reduced debt at £629m, stating that it has ample debt facilities in excess of £1 billion. The firm noted that a weakening property market is already providing us with interesting opportunities for profitable new Retail stores. Chairman: The current economic climate in the U.K. is unstable and this brings short term volatility in sales which, in turn, makes forecasting difficult. ||London Stock Exchange [LSE.UK] provided an interim statement: the exchange reported average daily value trade on SET at £5.6B (-40% y/y), London Avg daily trades 730K (+2% y/y). LSE stated that activity levels for new issues reflect the difficult market environment. LSE reported 11 month SET trades 735K (+17% y/y) and stated that value trading has fallen. Overall the exchange stated that trading remains inline with prior expectations. ||For the UK financial group Man [EMG.UK], the firm reported its FY09 Pre tax at $1.2B v $1.18Be and its AUM at $47.7B, down from the $74.6B y/y. Man stated that FY08 redemptions stood at $4.4B v $4.7B y/y and that the group is not immune to variations in the global economy. Man stated that Markets are expected to remain volatile while its group outlook remains positive. The firm put its final dividend to be declared at $0.248/share and stated that investors have been moving towards more conservatively structured investment products. ||Songbird [SBDB.UK] reported its FY08 net loss at £1.7B v a profit of £205.8M y/y and its FY08 NAV at 64p v £1.49 y/y. The real-estate trust stated that its net assets stood at £459.7M -80.4% y/y and its FY08 Rental income at £287.5M v £275M y/y. The firm is seeking to refinance £880M facility due to mature in 2010 and remains in talks with shareholders regarding longer term capital structures. Songbird stated that there is a material risk that company may break covenant tests in 1-yr time. || RBS [RBS.UK], reportedly pay restrictions may lead to an exodus of traders - London Times . The article notes that the two heads (David Messer and Frank Gallipoli) of the company's commodities trading jv (RBS Sempra Commodities) left the firm ahead of an expected compensation review. According to an industry source, a number of traders were planning to quit because RBS is about to clamp down on pay. || Wendel Investissments [MF.FR] reported its FY08 Recurring Net at €395M v €583Me and put its final dividend at €1/shr v €1.80/shr estimate. Wendle stated that its net asset value stood at €22/share and that its CEO Lafonta was to leave in May 2009. Reminder: Earlier in session, it was reported that firm's FY08 earnings will be in line with FY07 final figures - Les Echos. || Volvo Trucks [VOLVB.SW] and Renault [RNO.FR] reportedly, Renault is not ruling out possible sale of its 20.9% stake in the company - Les Echos. Newspaper cites Renault COO Pelata in report. Reminder: Back on 03/24, RNO.FR: Company reportedly denies intent to sell its Volvo stake. || German truck maker [MAN.GE], reportedly co. seeks to overtake Daimler in Latin America. Handelsblatt reports Man AG plans to invest €330M to expand production at a Brazil-based plant bought from Volkswagen for €1.2B. Reminder: On Feb 19 -CFO: Have received €2B loan to fund VW Brazilian truck unit acquisition. €1.5B to be used to purchase VW unit, facility from 10 banks. ||Spanish carrier Iberia [IBLA.SP], reportedly merger with British Airways could be delayed until Sept - Spanish press. Reminder: Iberia had previously stated that it expected to have come to a decision by end of March, 2009. ||Swedish retailer H&M [HMB.SW] reported its Q1 Net profit at SEK2.58B v SEK2.89Be, Op profit SEK3.36B v SEK3.84Be, and Rev SEK23.3B v SEK23.0Be. H&M put its Q1 Gross Margin at 56.6% v 58.6%e and Feb SSS -8% v -7%e (negative calendar effect in Feb impacted sales by 4% to 5%). The said the launch of H&M Home was well received and that Q1 price reductions were on same level as Q1 2008. H&M remains positive towards future expansion and in local currencies, the sales increase was 4%. In comparable units, sales decreased

- Speakers: ECB's Trichet noted that the Eurozone Government bond yield spreads reflected abnormal market conditions. He Notes that it reflected particular appreciation of sound ness of fiscal policies || ECB's Noyer commented that food price volatility is a challenge for monetary policy. He noted that food price volatility created a divergence between the headline and core inflation numbers. The volatility might be linked to long term upward trend in food prices. Deterioration in terms of trade has hurt emerging economies ||BOJ's Shirakawa commented that Japanese banks are not having difficulty borrowing US Dollars || Polish Central Bank Noga reiterated that Zloty currency was undervalued || BOE's Sentence noted that the UK fiscal deficit already very large; sees case for targeted fiscal measures

|| HKMA's Yam commented that he saw inflation as a 'potential risk' but not a current concern || (US) Fed's Lockhart: USD to remain dominant global reserve currency. He noted that one month of improved economic data in the US did not constitute a recovery and noted that most US data suggested a recession for few more months. However, the US data 'some what encouraging:. Treasury's plan should reduce long term interest rates. Deterioration of economy warranted bold moves || Russian Dep Central Bank: US Treasury share of reserves over 30%. No plans to widen Ruble corridor at this time nor not likely to review currency structure of reserves. Lastly he noted that capital outflows likely stopped in March || PBoC Gov Zhou commented that the China's economic stimulus actions has shown initial results and that the leading economic indicators signal an economy recovery and that the momentum of the slowdowan has been curbed. He reiterated the G7 pledge to increase its domestic consumption rater than rely on exports. PBoC say it expects to serve as a 'stabilizing force' in global economy || Taiwan Central bank commented that currency rates are determined by market forces but would maintain order in currencies. Central Bank believes that interest rates cannot go any lower but to decide on future rate cuts based on conditions. Money market and interest rates are at record lows and that the central bank noted that the domestic financial system was relatively stable || Indian Central Bank Gov noted that global credit markets remain frozen; credit flows to companies have declined and that India has a painful adjustment to make. India economic growth would be backed by productivity and savings rate but would not issue timeline for economic recovery || Polish Central Banker Czekaj Favors more interest rate cuts as could see contractions in both Q2 and Q3. GDP likely to t remain positive for 2009. Stronger Zloty would make interest rate cut decisions easier. || Italy's Confindustria: Sees Q1 2009 GDP -3.3% v -1.0% prior view, Deficit at 4.6% of GDP v 3.0% prior, 2009 CPI +0.8%, Debt at 112.5% of GDP

- In Currencies: Fed Lockhart commented that the USD to remain dominate global reserve currency || UBS analyst noted that the USD to remain supported on FED policy making || Chatter circulating that the SNB would make a 'pending announcement. The CHF weakened ahead of the NY morning on the rumors. Overall, little movement in the currencies following the Geithner misquote late on Wednesday. EUR/USD maintaining a 1.3530 to 1.3630 range.

- Fixed income: Government bonds continue to trade defensively despite a mixed performance in equities, with bear steepening of yield curves still en vogue. Dealers have noted that after a deluge of supply and weak auction results in three major Bond markets yesterday yields are rising towards their pre quantitative easing levels. The 10y Gilt is currently yielding around 3.3% versus 3.34% on March 5th. The yield on the 10y Note is back above 2.80% compared to opening levels of 2.95% last Wednesday, having moved as low as 2.465%. And the yield on the Bund is currently around 3.17% , having moved firmly below 3.00% last week. || - In Energy:

- Credit Crisis: Fitch cuts credit rating on Russia's MDM and Alfa Banks; lowers outlook on other banks to Negative

- Geopolitical: Saudi Arabia noted a senior Al-Qaeda commander had surrendered. Noted that this person had helped smuggle fighters into Iraq

*** NOTES ***

- China growing more confident that the worst may be over for its economy

- ECB hints at concerns over food price inflation and the possible instability it could bring

- Overall focus seems to be on the upcoming G20 summit on April 2. Dealers noting that the U.S. seemed to be positioning itself so it would not be forced into a corner at the meeting. In particular, the Obama administration would not like to see any restraints on its future borrowing power. The failed Gilt auction yesterday send a warining shot across the bow for Washington.

- Dealer chatter of large USD supply and demand out of Japan thru Friday.

- WSJ noted that the AIG resignations could trigger defaults on $234B in derivatives contracts.

- Dealers noting that Geithner currency debacle yesterday overshadowed some concerns in the financial sector as traders gave little notice to Moody's downgrade of BAC and Wells Fargo over concern they'll need more govt aid.

- Looking Ahead:

- 8:30 (US) Q4 Final GDP Q/Q: -6.6% expected v -6.2% prior; GDP Price Index: 0.5% expected v 0.5% prior

- 8:30 (US) Q4 Personal Consumption: -4.4% expected v -4.3% prior; Core PCE Q/Q: 0.8% expected v 0.8% prior

- 8:30 (US) Initial Jobless Claims w/e Mar 21st: 650k expected v 646k prior; Continuing Claims w/e March 14th: 5.475M expected v 5.473M prior

- (TA) Taiwan Benchmark Interest Rate Decision: 25bps cut to 1.00% expected; current Benchmark is 1.0%

- (CZ) Czech Interest Rate Decision: No change expected, current Repo Rate is 1.75%


- 6:30 (UK) DMO to sell £1.1B 1.875% 2022 linkers

- 13:00 (US) Treasury to sell $24B 5y Notes


- 6:15 (EU) ECB's Papademos speaks in Brussels

- 8:00 (EU) ECB's Wellink speaks in Netherlands

- 9:25 (US) Fed's Lacker speaks in Charleston

- 10:00 (US) Treasury Sec Geithner testifies before House Fin Services Committee


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