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Forex Blog - European market Update: German IFO rebounds from historic lows; USD softer on China FX reserve diversification speculation

Today 05:56am EST/09:56am GMT

European market Update: German IFO rebounds from historic lows; USD softer on China FX reserve diversification speculation


- (GE) German Feb Real NSA Construction orders Y/Y: -17.5%; YTD -21.1%

- (FR) French March Consumer Spending M/M: 1.1% v 0.2%e; Y/Y: +0.6% v -0.5%e

- (SP) Spain Q1 unemployment Rate: 17.4% v 16.6%e

- (NE) Dutch Apr Producer Confidence: -17.4 v -20.0e

- (GE) German Apr IFO - Business Climate: 83.7 v 82.3e; Current Assessment: 83.6 v 82.1e; Expectations: 83.9 v 82.6e

- (UK) UK Mar Vehicle production 69.9K, down 52% y/y

- (UK) March Retail Sales M/M: +0.3% v -0.3%e; Y/Y; 1.5% v 1.1%e

- (UK) Feb Index of Services : -1.2% v -1.3% prior

- (UK) Q1 Adv GDP Q/Q: -1.9% v -1.5%e; Y/Y: -4.1% v -3.8%e; largest annual decline since 1979


- Equities: European Equity markets opened to the positive side snapping a two day trend. Better than expected earnings out of Italian energy giant ENI [ENI.IT]bid the pan-European energy sector. Initial trading also saw good buying in UK listed mineral and mining names following comments out of China regarding continued diversification of holdings (away from USD into other currencies/precious/strategic metals). Financials also took a strong start to the European morning. Expectations regarding March retail sales and GDP figures out of the UK sent the FTSE100 retailers into the red in first crosses. Equity markets continued their light tone through the first hour of trading with markets printing then session highs just be 4:00Est at levels +1% across the board. Better than expected German IFO figures sent markets to new highs as all sectors moved higher. IFO statement that economic downturn to 'clearly ease' supporting buyers across the board. IFO statements regarding recovery in industrial production sent steel and construction firms to session highs [SZG.GE] while lifting autos off their lows [DAI.GE]. Mixed sentiment out of the UK at 4:30EST with a higher than expected retail sales figure sent that sector higher buy a lower than expected prelim GDP figure paired market gains across Europe. Modest improvement in EURIBOR levels failed to fuel new strength in financial names and markets have slowly drifted off their post ILO highs and into the NY morning.

- In specific stocks news: Volvo [VOLVB.SW] Reports Q1 Net loss SEK4.2B v loss SEK2.21Be, Rev SEK56.12B v SEK54.55Be, Q1 Gross Margin 15.7% v 24.2% y/y, Q1 Volvo Finance provision for loan losses SEK780M v SEK61M y/y, Q1 Total truck deliveries 32.2K v 65.9K y/y. || ENI [ENI.IT] Reports Q1 Net profit €1.76B (ex items) v €1.58Be, Op profit €3.75B v €3.33Be, Rev €23.7B v €20.27Be; cuts production forecast from previous of +3% y/y, Q1 output averaged 1.779M boe/d v 1.796M boe/d y/y, Guides FY09 capex lower y/y. ||Valeo [FR.FR] Reports Q1 Net loss €159M v loss €88.3Me, Rev €1.62B v €1.62Be. Have seen slight improvement in business operations for the month of March, seeking to cut FY09 investment levels by up to 1/3 from a y/y FY08 level. || Safran [SAF.FR], GE Agrees to sell a majority stake in GE Security's Homeland Protection Business to Safran for $580M. Upon close, GE will own 19% and SAFRAN will have majority interest with 81%. || E.ON [EOAN.GE] Confirms support for London Thames wind park Array. Will be one of JV members to receive part of £525M UK stimulus to further project. || RandStad [RAND.NV] Reports Q1 Net loss €52.6M v loss €39.5Me, EBITA €49.2M (ex items) v €40.3Me, Rev €3.06B v €3.20Be, States that Q2 sales may continue downward momentum. ||

- Speakers: ECB's Weber commented that he continues to see improvement in inter-bank markets over first few months of 2009 || IFO's Nerb stated that manufacturing was a main driver of April IFO increase. He reiterated the view that the ECB should cut its rate to 0.50%. Nerb noted that German domestic demand was more important than demand now || IFO's Abberger stated that the German economy had experienced a deep decline and added that he did not see an economic turnaround at this time. Situation remained difficult but perhaps the worst of the economic crisis was behind at this time. Inflation was not an issue for coming quarter. || Spain's Salgado: Gov't expects signs of improvement in next quarter's unemployment figures from the -17.4% seen in its Q1 release. || UK Stats Office (ONS)commented that the April budget changes would raise 1-month change in CPI by almost 0.3% but that the impact of change would take a few months to occur. || Russian Econ Ministry rumored to cut 2009 GDP forecast to -6% from -2.2% || Moody's commented that its UK's "AAA" sovereign rating outlook was stable and were not under review || German Chancellor Merkel ruled out tax increases for Germany

- In Currencies: The USD was broadly weaker ahead of the European morning due to a number of factors. China Forex Official stated that its gold reserves stood at 1,054 metric tons and has steadily risen by 454 Tons since 2003. the official also reiterated comments on China's reserves diversification process. China's monthly FX reserve changes were not due to capital flow and saw a low risk of substantial outflow. FX reserves diversification restricted to major currencies and quality assets. Also weighing upon the USD sentiment was dealer chatter circulating about a bank credit analyst research note on 'new' international monetary system proposal . European dealers noted that this analyst note suggest that a new international monetary system is at hand as an acute exit from the global economic and financial crisis. This analyst believes that the US would partially cede control of its monetary policy while in exchange creditor nations partially cede control of their reserves management. Thus speculation rising that USD would lose its status as store of value but maintain its role as unit of account in global trade. EUR/USD tested 1.3270, aided by a small rebound in the April German IFO data from its prior 26-year record low reading last month.

- British pound slumped across the board after London Telegraph suggested that UK may lose its AAA sovereign rating following the government's budget released earlier this week. However. Moody's commented that the UK's AAA rating outlook was stable and not under review. Further GBP weakness resulted following the UK Q1 GDP release, which saw its largest annual decline in three decades. GBP/USD tested the 1.4600 level during the European morning.

- The JPY maintained its firm tone that it exhibited in Asia. JPY strength attributed to press speculation that Japan's FSA could implement curbs on currency margin trading. Chatter circulated that margin trade would be kept to 20-30 times leverage. Dealers noted that some carry-related trades increasingly have leverage of some 100-600 times.

- Fixed income: Gilts continue to suffer as a result of the deterioration in UK public finances, with press reports on the potential of a sovereign downgrade adding to the negative sentiment emanating from Wednesday's budget. Gilt futures have moved back in to positive territory after weak GDP figures at the time of writing , but UK debt continues to under perform relative to its peers. After testing parity just weeks ago the 10y Gilt is trading around 30bps cheap to the Bund, and having moved within 5bps of the 10y Note in early March, the 10y Gilt is trading 60bps cheap to the US benchmark. Traders are now speculating on a potential increase to the BoE's quantitative easing program. For the record, the BoE affirmed its commitment to its commercial paper facility, stating that it would not withdraw from the CP market until "abnormal credit conditions" improve.

- In Energy: OPEC Secretary General El-Badri commented that OPEC did not expect any new production cuts at its May policy meeting. He noted that current compliance with prior cuts remains around the at 80% level and reiterated the view that full compliance is necessary with past cuts before new ones are imposed.

- Credit Crisis: Bank Credit Analyst: New Intl monetary system is at hand as an acute exit from the crisis. US will partially cede control of its monetary policy while in exchange creditor nations partially cede control of their reserves management. USD will lose its status as store of value but maintain its role as unit of account in global trade

*** NOTES ***

- Spot gold was the focus in Europe after comments from a Chinese FX reserve official. China noted that its Gold reserves by over 450 tons since 2003 to 1,054 metric tons. USD weaker on continued china reserves diversification chatter.

- Press speculation rising that the UK "AAA" at risk following the budget proposal earlier this week.

- German IFO data re-enforcing some opinions that perhaps the 'worst' of the global economic crisis is behind us at this time. During Asia, the PBOC adviser Fan Gang noted that China's economy had bottomed, can achieve 7-8% growth this year

- Treasury Secretary Geithner hosts G7 finance ministers in Washington, DC; G20 FinMin as well in follow-up to the G20 summit

- Treasury to disclose bank stress test assumptions to Banks

- Looking Ahead:

- 8:00 (BR) Brazil March Unemployment Rate: 9.0% expected v 8.5% prior

- 8:30 (US) March Durable Goods Orders (last 3.4%, ex-transport 3.9%)

- 9:30 (EU) ECB's Liikanen to speak in Washington

- 10:00 (US) March New Home Sales: 337K forecasted versus 337K prior


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