Markets News Afternoon: European Systemic Risk Board hold first meeting; US initial weekly jobless claims dip 37,000; Morgan Stanley reports 35% rise in Q4 2010 earnings
By Finfacts Team
Jan 20, 2011 - 2:59 PM

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Taoiseach Brian Cowen announcing the date for the General Election in the Dáil today: March 11, 2011.

Irish General Election: Taoiseach Brian Cowen today announced that a general election will be held on March 11th.

In a statement to the Dáil this afternoon, the Taoiseach reassigned the portfolios left vacant by the resignation of six ministers in recent days as it was clear that he could not command majorities to appoint new ministers.

Minster for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe today resigned and it appears that he will not seek reelection to the Dáil, while Mary Harney, Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey and Tony Killeen gave their letters of resignation to the Taoiseach late last night.

Micheál Martin, the former foreign minister, resigned on Tuesday night following his failed challenge to Cowen's leadership of Fianna Fáil.

European Systemic Risk Board: The European Systemic Risk Board, Europe's body to foresee systemic risk that would avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, held its first meeting in Frankfurt today.

The meeting led to a number of decisions on the set-up and functioning of the Board:

  • The ESRB rules of procedure were established. They will be made available in the next days on the ESRB website and will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union in the course of February.
  • Marek Belka, Governor of the Narodowy Bank Polski; Mario Draghi, Governor of the Banca d’Italia; Athanasios Orphanides, Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus; Axel Weber, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank; were elected members of the Steering Committee for three years.
  • Stefan Ingves, Governor of the Sveriges Riksbank was elected Chair of the Advisory Technical Committee for three years.
  • Mandates for the Advisory Scientific Committee and the Advisory Technical Committee were adopted and will be published on the ESRB website.
  • The General Board decided to approve the procedures to select the members of the Advisory Scientific Committee and to publish a call for expressions of interest for membership of the Committee. The call will be posted on the ESRB website in the next days and will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union in early February. Candidates will have three weeks to apply after publication in the Official Journal.

The ESRB is an independent EU body responsible for the macro-prudential oversight of the financial system within the Union. The ESRB is located in Frankfurt and its secretariat is provided by the European Central Bank.

The chair of the ESRB is the President of the European Central Bank,  Jean-Claude Trichet. The first Vice-Chair of the ESRB is  Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England. He was elected by the members of the General Council of the ECB on December 16, 2010 for five years. The second Vice-Chair of the ESRB will be the Chair of the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities.

If the ESRB is not satisfied that action is not taken in response to warnings, it has the option of going public with its fears and leaving the rest to the persuasive powers of financial markets.

US initial jobless claims fell more than expected last week and showed their biggest decline since February, with CNBC's Steve Liesman:

US Weekly Jobless Claims: In the week ending Jan. 15th, the seasonally adjusted initial jobless benefit claims was 404,000, a decrease of 37,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 441,000. The 4-week moving average was 411,750, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised average of 415,750.

The Department of Labour said the  number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Jan. 8 was 3,861,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 3,887,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,006,250, a decrease of 52,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 4,058,500.

US Existing-home sales rose sharply in December, when sales increased for the fifth time in the past six months, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 12.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28m in December from an upwardly revised 4.70m in November, but remain 2.9% below the 5.44m pace in December 2009.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said sales are on an uptrend. “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuate more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $168,800 in December, which is 1.0% below December 2009. Distressed/foreclosure/bank forced sales rose to a 36% market share in December from 33% in November, and 32% in December 2009.

“The modest rise in distressed sales, which typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent relative to traditional homes, dampened the median price in December, but the flat price trend continues,” Yun said.

"When we look at businesses overall, we see them holding up relatively well," Charlotte Hogg, MD for UK & Ireland at Experian told CNBC. A potential rate hike as early as May could cause a rise in delinquency rates, she added:

Morgan Stanley: US investment bank, Morgan Stanley, today reported a 35% increase in fourth-quarter earnings on record revenue from its brokerage, the world’s biggest. Fixed-income trading revenue was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2008.

Net income climbed to $836m, or 41 cents a share, from $617m, or 29 cents, a year earlier. Earnings from continuing operations, excluding a 17-cent gain on the sale of a stake in China International Capital Corp. and a tax gain of about 6 cents, were 20 cents a share.

US Markets

In New York Thursday, the Dow is down 60 points or 0.51% to 11,765.

The S&P 500 is down 0.58% and the Nasdaq is off 0.83%.

European Markets

The pan-European Dow Jones Stoxx 600 has dipped 0.89% Thursday.

In Dublin the ISEQ declined 1.16%.

CRH which accounts for about 27% of the Dublin market's capitalisation, is up 1.26%; Elan is off 3.19%; BoI is down 1.96%; Ryanair fell 6.59% and Aer Lingus dipped 4.63%.

Ryanair's passenger charge for printing a boarding pass has encountered turbulence and declared illegal by a Spanish judge. Dan Miró, a lawyer who specialises in fighting airlines on behalf of passengers, brought the case against Ryanair after he was charged €40 for a boarding pass at Girona airport near Barcelona last year.

European benchmarks

Irish share prices

Euribor Interest Rates


Crude oil for February delivery is currently trading on the Chicago York Mercantile Exchange (CME/Nymex) at $88.29 per barrel down $2.57 from Wednesday's close. In London, Brent for February is trading on the International Commodities Exchange at $96.04.


The euro is trading at $1.3437 and at £0.8469.

Discussing a turning point in US-Chinese relations, with Gary Locke, US Commerce Secretary:

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