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Wednesday February 17, 2010 - 11:36:50 GMT
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European Market Update: UK Claims for jobless benefits rise to 1.64M, the highest since April 1997; Reserve diversification issue overhangs recent dollar upward trend

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 5:51:17 AM

 European Market Update: UK Claims for jobless benefits rise to 1.64M, the highest since April 1997; Reserve diversification issue overhangs recent dollar upward trend


- (FI) Finland Jan PPI M/M: 1.1% v 0.4% prior; Y/Y: -0.1% v -2.6% prior
- (SP) Spain Q4 Final GDP Q/Q: -0.1% v -0.1%e; Y/Y: -3.1% v -3.1%e
- (SW) Sweden Jan Avg House Prices (SEK) 2.07M v 1.95M prior
- (GE) Germany DIHK Industry economic survey: Raises German 2010 GDP forecast to 2.3% from 2.0% prior
- (SA) South Africa Dec Retail Sales Y/Y: -3.7% v -5.6%e
- (UK) BOE Minutes: Voted unanimous to maintain both interest rates and Quantitative Easing (QE) at current levels of 0.50% and £200B respectively
- (UK) Jan Jobless Claims Change: +23.5K v -10.0Ke; Claimant Count Rate: 5.0% v 5.0%e
- (UK) Dec Weekly Earnings (with bonus) 3M/Y: 0.8% v 0.9%e; Weekly Earnings (ex bonus) 3M/Y: 1.2% v 1.1%e
- (UK) Dec ILO Unemployment Rate: 7.8% v 7.8%e
- (EU) Euro-Zone Dec Construction Output M/M: 0.5% v -0.8% prior; Y/Y: -3.1% v -6.8% prior
- (EU) Euro-Zone Dec Trade Balance €4.4B v €5.0Be; Trade Balance Seasonal Adj: €7.0B v €3.9Be
- (IT) Italy Dec Current Account: -€3.8 v -€4.6B prior
- (PO) Portugal Q4 Unemployment: 10.1% v 9.8% prior

- Equities: European markets are seeking to print three consecutive sessions of gains. Trading in
Asia is winding back up to speed with Hong Kong coming off holiday with a strong +1.31% showing. Gains in Australia, Japan and India set the tone for Europe. Asian tone, being set by triple digit gains in NY appears for the time being to have tipped the risk theme to full on, from full off. Earnings figures continued their fast and furious pace with financials BNP Paribas [BNP.FR] and ING [INGA.NV] leading the offerings. Figures from both firms were not as strong as those seen in yesterday's session from Barclays [BARC.UK], but banks maintained their positive tone and traded broadly higher. Financial sector earnings from Deutsche Bourse [DB1.GE] furthered this rotation. Other positive movers included EADS [EAD.FR] following French press reports that the firm was nearing an agreement on a revised payment scheme for the A400M. UK listed hedge fund Man Group [EMG.UK] has been well bid following renewed takeover speculation and solid weekly NAV figures. Equity markets in the UK shook of disappointing unemployment figures that showed claims at the highest levels in 13 years. Trading volumes have maintained their high tempos with all core European bourses trading at or ahead of their moving averages.

- In individual equities: BNP Paribas [BNP.FR]: Reports Q4 Net €1.37B v €1.06Me, Rev €10.06B v €10.11Be. || ING [INGA.NV]: Reports Q4 Net loss adj €712M v loss €306Me, Rev €10.0B v €13.8Be. || Legal and General [LGEN.UK]: Interim Management Statement: Q4 APE £1.39B v £1.5B y/y. || Atos Origin [ATO.FR]: Reports FY09 Net €32M v €67Me, Rev €5.1B v €5.1Be; will not pay 2009 dividend. || Publicis Groupe [PUB.FR]: Reports FY09 Net €403M v €412Me, Rev €4.5B v €4.6Be; Q4 organic growth -5.4% y/y. ||

- Speakers: Spain PM Zapatero commented that he expected
GDP growth to return in the first half of 2010 and employment growth during the second half of the year. He stated that Spain must return to deficit/GDP ratio to 3% by 2013 (Maastricht Stability Pact criteria) as the country cannot maintain such high public deficit figures. Fiscal consolidation was the government's priority and now was the right time to implement austerity programs. He pointed out the good health of Spain's public debt situation as the country's debt to GDP ratio was below the EU average. ***Bank of Korea Gov Lee commented that the long-term USD trend was likely to see further weakness but did concede that the dollar could endure temporarily gains due to instability. On domestic rates, Lee added that the central bank would raise interest rates once private sector recovery was confirmed ***BoE Agents commented that the outlook for employment has improved marginally but few employers plan on hiring full time positions. The agents stated that employers look to fill rising demand via temporary workers***Germany DIHK Industry economic survey raised its 2010 GDP growth to 2.3% v 2.0% prior. It noted that German business outlook was higher on the back of exports and investment spending but financing ability to companies remained key downside risk. It did note that business optimism now outweighed gloom for first time since economic crisis began *** BoE Agents stated that the outlook for employment had improved marginally although few employers planned on hiring full time positions. It noted that employers looked to fill rising demand via temporary workers ** Turkey Central Bank Yilmaz commented that the central bank was not considering change in policy stance*** Bank of Italy (BOI) comments on the country's tax amnesty program and stated that it had collected €85.1B to date with €60B of the total coming from Switzerland.

- Currencies: A backdrop of improving risk appetite continued to weigh upon the USD and JPY currencies in the early part of the European morning. Asian equities posted their biggest daily gain in three months earlier and commodity prices maintained a buoyant tone but off their session highs. The
US Dec TIC flow data provided rationale to resurface the reserve diversification issue which previous hampered the dollar throughout 2009. The reserve issue highlighted by the $34B decline in the Chinese US Treasury holdings buried in the Dec TIC data. Gold benefited from the implications that paper currencies had fiscal and budget concerns in both Europe and the US. However, the European peripheral situation had not faded from memory. The EUR/USD was unable to move above the 1.38 handle as dealers again noted that the ECB overnight loan facility continued to have larger than usual borrowing. Dealers pointed out that the facility typically sees around €300M borrowed and this amount has climbed above €3B since last Friday with some speculation that it might be Greece-related

- Fixed Income: Gilt markets were knocked around by the simultaneous release of BoE Minutes and jobless data. The former drew more of a reaction, with some expectations for dissent from the likes of Miles the unanimous vote against expanding QE seems to have put the kybosh on any further Gilt purchases for the foreseeable future. But a pretty weak reading in jobless claims managed to cap yields with the 2y holding below 1.20% and the 10y holding below 4.05% as we go to press. In continental markets,
Germany sold €6.27B in a new 2 year Schatz at an avg yield of 1.07%. Meanwhile peripherals have improved against the core thanks to burgeoning risk appetite. Greek 10s have shed 6bp on the day to trade at Bunds +310bps

- Geopolitical: Energy and industry giants BP, ConocoPhillips and Caterpillar have announced intentions to leave a public/private JV, the US Climate Action Partnership. The decision follows the widely seen failure at
Copenhagen (mostly attributed to China) to reach any fundamental goals, along with a growing anti-global warming movement in certain circles. The possibility of US legislation on climate change is seen as unlikely, as it is vehemently opposed by Republicans who are expected to make electoral gains in November. All three firms stated that they remained committed to lowering greenhouse gasses, but would pursue operations outside of USCAP. ***Celebrations for the Birthday of Kim Jong Il have continued into their second day today. Scheduled events are to run through Thursday and have been noted as significantly larger than prior years. Kin Jong Il's birth years, like much of the secretive state, is hotly debated between 1942 (inside Korea) and 1941 (inside the USSR). Analysts have speculated that the ramp up of events is most likely a sign of the government seeking to express continued authority following a year that saw further international break downs, and a crackdown on illegal 'grey-area' private industry activities.

- In the papers: UK Independent article noting that the Eurozone contagion fears have spread to Spain. Article debated which nation might next suffer from the dreaded "contagion". The fear was that the next member of the so-called "PIIGS" - Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain - to suffer a crisis of confidence would be Spain. At first glance, Spain is in a much more secure position than her "Club Med" neighbors, because she starts with a level of national debt that is comparable to the UK, France and Germany - around 60% of GDP (against well over 100% in Greece) - and her banking sector has not, yet, suffered from quite the same meltdown as other economies that enjoyed a property bubble in the early years of this decade, notably the British, and Irish. The problem is size. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman put it this way: "In economic terms the heart of the crisis is in Spain, which is much bigger". The EU's Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia - a Spaniard - has suggested that Spain's economic problems look increasingly like those of Greece and Portugal. But in a worst case scenario, Greece is affordable - about 2.5% of European
GDP. Spain, conversely, accounts for about 16% of EU GDP, and is a much more expensive proposition for restoration work.

- The issue of reserve diversification resurfaces after Tuesday US TIC data as China and other BRICs buying less US paper
- ECB's Quaden: No risks to inflation for the moment. No need to raise rates
- UK Claims for jobless benefits rise to 1.64M, the highest since April 1997

***Looking Ahead:
- 7:00 (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Feb 12th: No est v -1.2% prior
- 7:45 (US) ICSC weekly Chain Store sales w/e Feb 13th
- 8:30 (CA) Canada Dec Wholesale Sales M/M: 0.8%e v 2.5% prior
- 8:30 (US) Jan Import Prices M/M: 1.0%e v 0.0% prior; Y/Y: 10.8%e v 8.6% prior
- 8:30 (US) Jan Housing Starts: 580Ke v 557K prior; Building Permit: 620Ke v 653K prior
- 8:55 (Redbook Retail sales w/e Feb 13th
- 9:00 (BE) Belgium Q4 Preliminary GDP Q/Q: No est v 0.5% prior; Y/Y: No est v % prior
- 9:15 (US) Jan Industrial Production: 0.7%e v 0.6% prior; Capacity Utilization: 72.6%e v 72.0% prior
- 11:00 (IT) Itlay Fin Min Tremonti in Parliament
- 12:00 (GE) Chancellor Merkel policy speech
- 12:00 (CA) Canada to sell 30-year bonds
- 12:20 (CA) Bank of Canada Dep Gov Longworth
- 12:30 (MX) Mexico bond auction
- 12:45 Fed's Plosser
- 14:00 (US) FOMC minutes from Jan 26th-27th policy meeting
- 14:00 (US) Jan Monthly Budget Statement: -$46.0Be v -$63.5B prior
- 16:30 (US) Crude Oil/Gasoline/Distillate Inventories



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