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Forex Blog - European Market Update: UK retail sales slump in May as rising unemployment curbs spending; Swiss National Bank calls previous intervention as 'successful' but will continue to counter Sw

Today 05:45am EST/09:45am GMT
European Market Update: UK retail sales slump in May as rising unemployment curbs spending; Swiss National Bank calls previous intervention as 'successful' but will continue to counter Swiss Franc strength


- (SZ) Swiss Central Bank (SNB) leaves 3-Month Libor Target Rate at 0.25%; as expected. To continue to counter CHF currency strength especially against the Euro

- (SP) Spanish Q1 Labor Costs: 3.9% v 5.4% prior

- (NE) Netherlands May Unemployment Rate: 4.5% v 4.6%e

- (SW) Swedish May Unemployment Rate: 9.0% v 8.4%e

- (RU) Russian God & Forex Reserves w/e Jun 12th: $406.6B v $409.5B prior

- (IT) Italian Apr Total Trade Balance: -€277M v -€250.0Me; Trade Balance EU: -€221M v -€97.0M prior

- (UK) May Retail Sales M/M: -0.6% v 0.3%e; Y/Y: -1.6% v -0.4%e

- (UK) May Public Sector Net Borrowing: £19.9B v £19.3Be; Public Finances (PNSCR): £18.8B v £16.0Be

- (UK) May Preliminary M4 Money Supply M/M: 0.2% v 0.7%e; Y/Y: 16.6% v17.3%e

- (SA) South African Q1 Current Account Balance (ZAR) -163.7B v -135.3Be; Current Account to GDP ratio: -7.0% v -5.9%

- (UK) CBI Industrial Trends total Orders: -51 v -56 prior


- In equities news overnight: European equity markets opened to a choppy trade after mixed sessions in both the US and Asia. Europe's primary exchanges opened positive but quickly dipped negative before re-testing their highs all within the first 15min of trading. Equity and sector news remains highly mixed with conflicting themes from World Bank comments on Chinese GDP (positive) and exports (negative), BoE's King statements on the UK economy (positive) and banking break ups (negative) sending mixed signals. With the March inspired equity rally coming to a prolonged stalemate, markets continue to seek direction and contend with declining summer trade volumes. In sector movement, Airlines led declines; Air France [AF.FR] announcing details on its convertible bond offer and an on-going labor issues at BA [BAY.UK] leading the move. Yesterday's bearish comments from K+S [SDF.GE] led to continued weight in the chemical, fertilizer and potash sector. Financials traded mixed, ING [INGA.NV] lead the upside following analyst comments from Goldman with other Benelux names following the movement. Miners and basic resource names recovered from their multi-session downtrend backed by support for Xstrata [XTA.UK] out of Citi. Equity markets trended lower ahead of the SNB rate decision. That action, at 3:30EST meet expectation with the target being left unchanged. Comments from the SNB that it will defend the CHF v the EUR (also as widely expected) sent markets lower on equity and currency risk aversion. Equity markets turned broadly negative following the SNB release before being comforted by additional SNB member commentary at 4:00EST. This recovery was halted by expectations of UK data at 4:30EST. Equity markets turned sharply south ahead of UK data that included retail sales number, M4 and public finance figures. Worse than expected UK May retail sales numbers drove that sector [MKS.UK], [HOME.UK] moving rapidly lower, dragging the FTSE100 to session lows. Support from M4 and public finance data mixed the equity reaction and markets bottomed. Comments from the German Economics Ministry at 4:50EST extended the equity recovery with the DAX pushing back towards unchanged. This sentiment, regarding a bottoming in H2 , 2009 and a modest positive outlook for exports carried into the 5:00EST hr. By 5:30EST, European bourses were trending higher with the DAX in slight positive territory, the CAC flat and the FTSE in slight negative territory. Volume levels have improved, albeit on a increasingly low benchmark.

-In individual equities: Marston's [MARS.UK] Announced fully underwritten 11 for 10 Rights Issue to raise gross proceeds of approximately £176M (about 46% of market cap). || GKN [GKN.UK] Announced 6 for 5 Rights Issue of up to 846.6M New Ordinary Shares at 50p (119p last) to raise gross proceeds of approximately £423M (about 50% of market cap). || Ashtead Group [AHT.UK] Reportd FY09 Pretax £87.4M v £89.1Me, Rev £1.07B v £1Be. £246M net cash inflow generated in the year (compared to a £1M outflow in 2008. || Cadbury [CBRY.UK] Provided interim statement: Reaffirmd FY09 guidance, trading improved in April and May. || Air France [AF.FR] Launches €575-661M April 2015 convertible bond offering. || Kloeckner & Co [KCO.GE] CEO noted that steel market as have hit a bottom; possible recovery in H2 2009 -Handelsblatt. || Pfleiderer PFD4.GE: Expectsed Q2 profit to decline 'significantly'; Might not be able to fulfill credit agreement. || Heidelbergcement [HEI.GE] Confirmd reaching agreement on refinancing €8.7B in loan facilities. Credit agreement runs until Dec 2011. || Metro Ag [MEO.GE] Reportedly to sell €300M in 2 yr bonds (2.5% of market cap). || EAD's [EAD.FR] Signed MOU with Wizz Air for 50 A320 models, potentially worth $3.8B. || Compari [CPR.IT] Placed $250M in bonds through private placement (approx 11% of market cap). ||

- Speakers: SNB's Roth noted that the EUR/CHF cross volatility has diminished considerably and that the Swiss Franc currency gains have 'ceased'. He declared that currency intervention has been successful but that deflationary risk has not disappeared completely. The global economy to show "modest" recovery but the situation was normalizing and remained vulnerable. Recent global indicators showed encouraging signs and that the SNB would absorb liquidity as confidence returns to market. ||| SNB's Hildebrand stated that he sees risk of a "deeper and longer" recession not noted that the economy to gradually recover in 2010. Swiss and international financial system remain vulnerable and that the SNB in direct contact with big banks ||| SNB's Jordan commented that the central bank had no fixed FX threshold, becomes active when necessary

- SNB is not pursuing a "beggar thy neighbor" policy (in line with previous SNB statements on protectionism) ||| ||| China's Minmetals comented that it saw Chinese demand for commodities flat over the next 2 years but demand increasing long term. The company noted that the recent rise in commodity prices might be unsustainable || Former PBOC Governor Dai Xianglong says there is room for China to increase its US Treasuries investment if the dollar is stable - China Finance magazine ||| Indian Fin Sec: commented that its economy continues along path of improvement ||| Industry group Confindustria cuts Italy's 2009 GDP view to -4.9% from -3.5% prior and tweaked its 2010 GDP view to +0.7% from +0.8% prior. The think tank also revised its 2009 debt/GDP ratio to 114.7% from 112.5 and the deficit/GDP ratio to 4.9% from 4.6% prior view. || BoE nominee Posen commented that US economy was recovering but the ride would be 'bumpy' and added that the shape of the recovery likely to be "W" shaped.

- In Currencies: The session was initially deemed to find any fresh impetus to spur any directional bias but that quickly changed following comments from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the UK retail sales data. Swiis central bank chief Roth commented that EUR/CHF cross volatility had diminished considerably and that CHF currency gains have 'ceased' helped the cross to move towards the 1.5000, which has not been violated since the initial March 12th intervention. Thus declaring the currency intervention as successful had dealers ponder whether the 1.500 mark was the 'line in the sand' for any additional SNB intervention. Dealers noting that the market had significant long EUR/CHF positions heading into SNB monetary policy decision and appeared to be plenty of option barriers below the 1.50 mark that suddenly seem "vulnerable".

- The GBP dropped sharply across the major pairs following the weaker UK retail sales data. Analyst cited that rising unemployment as a factor for the first decline in three months for the data series. The BOE did express concern in their most recent minutes that risk of pronounced increase in domestic savings rate could occur. GBP/USD quickly descended 150 pips from the 1.6370 level to probe the pivotal 1.62 neighborhood. EUR/GBP regained a foothold back above 0.8600 while GBP/JPY slumped over 200 pips from its opening levels seen in Asia to test 155.00.

- The EUR/USD was holding above the 1.3930 level for the bulk of the European morning but chatter of an option barrier at 1.4000 stymied its upward momentum. Session high was 1.3991.

- Dealers noted that Australia May RBA FX Transactions totaled A$1.43B, which was the largest FX market sale since the RBA sold A$1.45B back in Feb 2004. TheRBA's noted in its most recent minutes for June that the AUD's recent rise had reduced stimulus.

- In Energy: Soc Gen Analyst commented that the price of crude oil could decline to $50/barrel within two months on weak global demand

- In Fixed Income Supply: Debt markets shrugged off the worst reading on record in UK public finances to focus on other data points and bid up Gilts this morning. And as both the FTSE and Sterling slumped a rotation out of risk seems more plausible than cross-market trades. In a rebuke to inflation hawks, UK broad money undershot both analyst estimates and April readings in May, appearing to show little to reaction to the increase to the BoE's Quantitative easing program, which took place in the same month. Retail Sales also posted its worst annual reading on record. The endgame was higher Gilt prices and lower yields with the UK 10y notably testing 3.75% for the first time in two weeks. Continental Government Bond markets have also put in a good performance today despite a flood of supply. Spain sold €1.7B in 2037s, above its initial target range of €750M - €1.25B, and France sold just over €8B in BTANs with strong results. US Treasuries have under-performed on a cross markets basis ahead of the 2,5,7y Note announcements., with the yield on the 10y Note moving as high at 3.715% in overnight trade.

- Credit crisis: FT article that China has initiated a "Buy Chinese" policy in its fiscal stimulus program, as stated in edict released by govt departments. Stimulus funds are said to be used only for Chinese products and services, as long as they are available in the country. Beijing is also starting an investigation into local govt officials supporting foreign suppliers

- Geopolitical: North Korea could reportedly launch a missile towards Hawaii around July 4th to 8th period the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported. The article did note that North Korea''s upgraded Taepodong-2 missile has a maximum range that falls about 500 km short of Hawaii''s main islands

*** NOTES ***

- UK May retail sales unexpectedly declined for the first time in three months

- Swiss National bank seems satisfied that currency volatility was diminishing, but will remain alert

- China's Minmetals: China commodities demand to be flat for next 1 to 2 years.

- Former PBOC Governor Dai Xianglong says there was room for China to increase its US Treasuries investment if the USD remained stable

- World Bank: raised China 2009 GDP forecast from 6.5% to 7.2%. It noted that further fiscal stimulus was unnecessary. However, any rapid broad-based recovery was unlikely.

***Looking Ahead***

- 7:00 (CA) Canadian Consumer Price Index M/M: 0.4%e v -0.1% prior, Y/Y: -0.2%e v 0.4% prior

- 7:00 (CA) Canadian CPI Core M/M: 0.1%e v 0.1% prior, Y/Y: 1.6%e v 1.8% prior

- 7:30 (BZ) Brazil COPOM Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes

- 8:30 (US) Initial Jobless Claims Jun w/e 13th: 604Ke v 601K prior; Continuing Claims Jun 6th: 6.84Me v 6.816M prior

- 9:00 (US) Treasury's Geithner testifies before Senate Banking committee

- 10:00 (US) May Leading Indicators: 1.0%e v 1.0% prior

- 10:00 (US) Jun Philadelphia Fed: -17.0e v -22.6 prior

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