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News : International Last Updated: Mar 21, 2011 - 3:49 PM


Markets News Monday: Swiss Re says cost of Japan quake claims estimated at $1.2bn; Deutsche Telekom sells T-Mobile USA for $39bn
By Finfacts Team
Mar 21, 2011 - 9:02 AM

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan addressing the Emergency Disaster Response Committee for the 2011 Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake, March 21, 2011.

Japan: Bloomberg reports today that workers raced to repair the most damaged reactors and reconnect power at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear complex, and temperatures of pools holding spent fuel rods cooled, prompting Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan to proclaim he could see “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Bloomberg sais progress is being made in restoring power to the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Fukushima, Kan said before a meeting with his crisis response team in Tokyo. Engineers are testing electrical equipment at the No. 1 and 2 reactors before it attempts to revive reactor cooling systems, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. A power cable was connected to the No. 3 and 4 reactors.

Swiss Re: The Swiss reinsurance giant said today it estimates claims costs of $1.2bn, net of retrocession and before tax in respect of the Japanese earthquake.

The company said the estimates are subject to high degree of uncertainty due to complexity of loss assessment following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake which struck off the coast of Honshu, Japan  on March 11, 2011. The event caused strong ground motions in the northeastern prefectures of Japan. The earthquake also triggered a tsunami which caused a substantial loss of life and extensive damage in coastal areas. Failures in cooling systems of the Fukushima nuclear power plant led to explosions, severe damage to nuclear reactors and the release of radioactivity into the environment.

"We extend our sympathies to the Japanese nation as they cope with the human tragedy and the destruction caused by this event," says Stefan Lippe, CEO of Swiss Re. "
We remain committed to using our expertise and experience to support clients in Japan as they manage the risks related to such devastating events. It is the purpose of our industry to aid communities in their recovery and redevelopment efforts."

Smurfit Business School: The business school has disclosed that an anonymous private donor has given it €500,000 to be used to pay half the fees for 12 graduates to undertake post graduate studies.

The successful graduates will have 50% of their chosen programme fees paid for by the fund.

The closing date for entry is Monday, April 25 and applications can be made at www.smurfitschool.ie

US Mobile Merger: AT&T Inc. has agreed to acquire T-Mobile USA from German giant Deutsche Telekom AG for $39bn in cash and stock, in a deal that would create an industry giant by combining the No. 2 and No. 4 US wireless carriers.

Noriyuki Shikata, Spokesperson for the Japan Prime Minister, Naoto Kan's Office, updates us on the developments at the stricken Fukushima Daii-chi plant, as well as rescue efforts in the tsunami-hit northeast region:

Economic View: Pivotal two weeks in store; Goodbody chief economist, Dermot O’Leary, comments  -- "European leaders started 2011 with a greater sense of urgency to solve the problems of the sovereign crisis in the bloc after a series of underwhelming responses last year.

Their self-imposed deadline of the March 24/25 summit is now almost upon them. Before that, euro-zone finance ministers meet today to thrash out some of the details of the proposals agreed at the last leaders’ summit, including increasing the size of the EFSF and key details of the ESM. Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan is also likely to be pressed on the issue of corporation tax, while at the same time attempt to renegotiate parts of the aid package for Ireland.

As we have said before, Ireland has a very weak hand to play and will have to give in to some demands from Europe. Agreement on the inclusion of a “debt brake” is one of these concessions, which should not be controversial given that Ireland has to meet strict targets under the IMF/EU programme over the next few years in any case. Judging from media reports over the weekend, Ireland may also agree to look at the issue of the common consolidated corporate tax base that was laid out last week by the European Commission. The Irish government is still strongly opposed to any change in the corporation tax rate, but agreement to 'constructively engage' on the CCCTB issue may be seen as the best way forward from the current stalemate.

Ireland is aware that it will need further European assistance to resolve the problems in the banking sector, with further bad news imminent. The Irish Independent cites a government source this morning saying that the 'stress tests are a lot worse that we ever thought possible.'

The full results of the bank stress tests will not be available until next week (March 31), but if these comments prove to be true, the Irish Government is bound to keep the notion of burden sharing with unguaranteed, unsecured bondholders on the agenda at European level. From this point of view, it is best to keep euro leaders on Ireland’s side as much as possible. We are in for an interesting couple of weeks to say the least."

Irish Financials: Stress tests next week; Goodbody's Eamonn Hughes  comments  - - "Last week, the Central Bank published its macro economic indicators that will underpin the PCAR assessment of the main banks which is due to be published next week (March 31) (see the note published March 16th by our economics team). It appears that the banks finished providing the information for the stress tests to the Central Bank over the weekend.

The banks will be queried on the data early this week and it appears that the Central Bank advisory board will meet this week to analyse the data, with publication on March 31. We have been nervous for the last few months of the likely extent of new capital required by the banks and as we approach the deadlines, would continue to advise investors to sit on the sidelines and await the results."

The sovereign debt crisis is the last leg of the global financial crisis, says Martin Hennecke, Associate Director at Tyche:

Oil prices rise on military intervention in Libya; Davy economist, Conall Mac Coille, comments  - - "Brent oil prices rose overnight to $116 a barrel following military intervention in Libya over the weekend. The increase in oil prices has fed through to other commodities, particularly metals. The S&P GSCI spot index of 24 commodity futures increased by 1.5% in Asian trading this morning. The events in Libya have reduced the appetite for risk. But treasury bonds fell following news on progress in Japan in dealing with problems at the Fukushima nuclear plant as investors' appetite for the safety of government debt receded.

The Rightmove measure of UK house prices indicated this morning that house prices rose by 0.9% on the month in March. However, the increase in house prices was driven by low levels of transactions as the small number of sellers continued to support prices. So today's increase in house prices reflects the weak outlook for the UK economy. Indeed, last week's nationwide consumer confidence measure fell to a record low, indicating that UK consumers are now even more gloomy than during the worst of the financial crisis. This week, the market is likely to focus on the UK budget with the coalition government there set to go ahead with an aggressive fiscal consolidation.

In an otherwise slow day for macroeconomic data, the market may focus on US existing home sales which are forecast to decline slightly from 5.36m to 5.12m. However, the big picture is that US home sales are likely to remain at very low levels relative to pre-recession rates of 6.5-7m. "

Asia Markets

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index ex-Japan rose 1.1% Monday.

Japan's markets were closed for a public holiday; China's Shanghai Composite added 0.08%; Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.35% and the Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex index rose 0.17% in Mumbai.

Asia benchmarks

Finfacts Reports

Commercial litigation in Ireland on €200,000 claim double cost in Europe; Average Irish court case takes 515 days
Impact of quake on Japan’s growth likely to be ‘temporary’; ‘Limited impact’ on strong regional economy says World Bank
Availability of seed funding for Irish companies at highest level in 30 years
Business clusters not a silver bullet for innovation; International links trump local/ national interactions

In Europe, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is up 1.18% in early trading Monday.

The German Dax is up 1.86% after the T-mobile announcement.

The ISEQ has risen 0.85% in Dublin.

CRH is up 0.49%; Elan has dipped 0.41% and Dragon Oil is up 3.98%.

European Benchmarks

Irish Share Prices

Irish Stock Market Capitalisation by Company

Key Index Performance Statistics

Euribor Rates

AIB Daily Report

Bank of Ireland Daily Report

Currencies 

The euro is trading at $1.4167 and at £0.8720.

For live currency updates, check the right-hand column of the Finfacts home page.

The US dollar fell to $1.6038 per euro on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - an-all time record.

Commodities

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for dry commodities, hit an all-time High of 11,771 on the 21st of May, 2008. From that time it reversed and on the 5th of December, 2008 it hit a low of 663 - - close to a 1986 low.

The BDI closed at 3,005 on Thursday, Dec 31st - - a rise of 289% in 2009. The index averaged 59% lower in 2009 than a year earlier.

On Thursday, July 15, 2010, the index  fell for the 35th straight session, by 9 points, or 0.537%, to 1,700 points, Bloomberg report.

On Friday July16th, the BDI rose 20 points or 1.12% to 1,700 to break the 35-session losing streak.

On Friday last week, the BDI fell 2 points or 0.13% to 1,531.

The Financial Times reported earlier in January, that Australia’s flooding and fears of ship oversupply has pushed down a gauge of the cost of hiring ships to carry coal, iron ore and other dry bulk by nearly half since October to the lowest level since the aftermath of the financial crisis. The Baltic Dry index, the widely watched measure of dry bulk charter rates, fell to 1,453, nearly half the 2,784 peak reached on October 27, 2010.

Crude oil for April 2011 delivery is currently trading on the Chicago York Mercantile Exchange (CME/Nymex) at $102.66 per barrel, up $1.59 from Friday's close. In London, Brent for April delivery is trading on the International Commodities Exchange at $115.38. The North Sea benchmark accounts for two-thirds of the global market.

The margin between the US benchmark WTI (West Texas Intermediate) used on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent is over $12.

The FT said in early February that a surge in oil inventories in Cushing, Oklahoma, where WTI is delivered into America’s pipeline system, has depressed the value of the benchmark against other yardsticks. The International Energy Agency said on Thursday that with “few relief valves” to cut the stock overhang in Cushing, the price dislocation “may persist for months [or years] to come”.

Gold spot price

The spot price of an oz of gold is trading in New York at $1,427.40, up $7.70 from Friday's close.

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