* ECB seen on hold in May, but may ease later* Money market rates falling again across 2012 strip* Curve seen flattening as rates seen low for longerBy Marius ZahariaLONDON, May 2 Short-term euro zone interest rates predict the European Central Bank will keep policy on hold on Thursday, but pricing also implies it could ease monetary policy further in coming months as the region struggles with a painful recession. The recent re-positioning in money markets for further easing comes after a protracted period of little movement. Investors thought at the time that the ECB's injections of about one trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) of cheap loans into the banking system (LTROs) would have a significant impact on the economy and could be the central bank's last moves this year. But weak business surveys and a recent escalation of the sovereign debt crisis have signalled that the impact of the LTROs has faded and more easing may now be necessary.
"Everything is pointing towards the intensification of the contraction again," Rabobank senior market economist Elwin de Groot said. "The market is preparing for the possibility that the ECB might cut rates further down the line.""I don't think it will happen this week. The ECB would be wary of being too responsive to a small set of data."Overnight Eonia rate forwards dated on 2012 ECB meetings have fallen in the past week by around 2-6 basis points to 24-30 bps, while Euribor futures have risen, implying expectations for a further fall in Euribor rates. Longer-dated rates fell more, reflecting expectations any move might occur in the second half of the year.
Max Leung, a rates strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, said markets were pricing in a 10-20 percent probability of a 25 bps key rate cut by midsummer and as much as a 40 percent chance of a cut by the end of the year. But he expected markets to soon price in a higher chance."The ECB said its next moves would be data-dependent. If we look at the Purchasing Managers Indexes for the euro zone, they are at levels at which the ECB cut rates back in October last year," Leung said.
"If the ECB cuts (its key refinancing rate from a record low of 1 percent), there is a decent chance that it will cut the deposit rate as well, which means there could be 10-15 basis points more to go in Eonia rates and Euribors."In his post-meeting speech on Thursday, Draghi is widely expected to remain cautious and suggest that the ECB is still in a wait and see stance. Any dovish signal he sends out would accelerate the markets' positioning for more easing. Barclays Capital rate strategist Giuseppe Maraffino said weak data and increased uncertainty about Spain could mean that markets would continue to price in a hefty chance of more easing even if Draghi gave no clues that this was likely. The markets' behaviour goes against the house view that rates will remain at 1 percent until the end of 2015, but Maraffino said it was "premature" at this point to bet against the trend and pay Eonia rates. Markets are not only pricing in a higher probability of a cut, but they are "increasingly embracing" the view that rates will stay low for longer, Societe Generale rate strategists said in a note. Having recommended a bet on a narrowing of the spread between one- and two-year rates a month ago to reflect that view, they are now recommending the same bet moved one year into the future using forward rate products.
Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (this site)Ian Smith, the new head of chemical and explosives manufacturer Orica and a former chief executive of gold producer Newcrest Mining, yesterday said he does not expect that he will be forced to write down the value of its Minova mining consumables business. "I don't think there's a great expectation inside the company that there's an impairment issue there with Minova at the moment," Mr Smith said. Analysts are speculating that Minova could be sold off by Orica, having failed to meet the parent company's goal of 18 percent return on net assets. Page 17.-- Alison Watkins, chief executive of GrainCorp, yesterday played down speculation that the grains handler was at greater risk of being subject to a takeover offer after Canadian agri-business Viterra revealed that it had received "expressions of interest from third-parties". "That can occupy everyone's minds but we will just get on with the job," Ms Watkins said about the Viterra bid, adding that the company was more concerned with recent flooding in eastern Australia. Page 17.-- Steve Mallyon, former managing director of coal producer Riversdale Mining, yesterday said that a move by Mozambique to prevent global miner Rio Tinto from shipping coal down the Zambezi River by barge could damage the country's exporting capacity and the country's image for mining investment. "Unfortunately this new policy is going to result in an underperforming coal sector for some time," Mr Mallyon said. Page 19.-- The most popular imported beer in Australia, Corona, will be sold locally by Japanese brewer Lion for the first time in over two decades after the company secured a distribution contract with Mexican beverage manufacturer Grupo Modelo. The move comes after Modelo cancelled local beer maker Foster's Group's distribution contract on Friday. James Brindley, beer, spirits and wine managing director at Lion, said the agreement was an "exciting development". Page 19.-- THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)Figures collected by researchers Intierra for the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies lobby group has found that Australia's share of capital for mining ventures worldwide has sunk to 15 percent from 21 percent in 2008, despite the value of capital raisings domestically growing by A$200 million to A$4.5 billion over the same period. "When you look at the numbers, this really highlights that we are not the only country in the world with minerals," Graham Short, national policy manager at the association, said. Page 19.--
Craig Kipp, chief executive of locally listed Boart Longyear , the largest drilling contractor in the world, recently said he "started the year telling the market that we were going to put points on the board and deliver to the market, and that's what we did". The firm last week posted a 89 percent increase in profit to A$160 million, with Mr Kipp adding that the contractor was forced to recruit expatriates to meet local demand for drillers and skilled labour. Page 19.-- Rio Tinto's Bret Clayton last week told analysts at a conference that the global miner was not changing its optimistic view of the Chinese economy, despite Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announcing that growth would fall from 9.2 percent in 2011 to 7.5 percent this year. The miner's head of business support and operations said that the eastern state was experiencing "new problems" and that "prices high". Page 20.-- Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, yesterday said the competition regulator's investigations into the supermarket giants was concentrating on whether unilateral adjustments had been made to long-standing contracts with suppliers. However, the regulator admitted that the welfare of suppliers could conflict with consumers' wish for lower prices. "We don't have evidence yet of unconscionable conduct but what we do know is that it's worth looking at," Mr Sims said. Page 21.--
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)Pressure is mounting on fund managers to declare how much they earn in exchange for managing the country's superannuation funds, with the industry set to gain A$9.4 billion in revenue from super fund members this financial year. "As a fund, you would want to know what the executives are being paid and whether they are aligned to you, the super fund," Fiona Reynolds, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Super Trustees representative body, said. Page B1.-- According to data due to be released today from the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, European lenders withdrew $7.56 billion from the Australian economy in response to the euro zone debt crisis. "Pressures on European banks to deleverage increased towards the end of 2011 as funding strains intensified and regulators imposed new targets," the Swiss bank will say in its quarterly review. Page B1.-- The New South Wales government has cut its women in business mentoring scheme alongside other support services for small businesses. Small Business Minister Katrina Hodgkinson yesterday said the Advisory Service, which offers mentoring and seminars to small companies, was no longer desired by the majority of small business owners. "Many small business operators indicated they are quite often unable to take extended time away from work," she said. The government will introduce a telephone advisory hotline in its place. Page B6.--
Olympic medallist Michael Klim, who will compete at the Australian swimming qualifiers for the London Olympics this week in South Australia, has revealed that he "always wanted to create a brand of some sort, probably in fashion or something like that". The swimming star established a male skincare line of products four years ago, with the Milk brand stocked in major retailers like Myer, Coles and Woolworths. Page B6.-- THE AGE (this site)Nicole Coughlin-Smith, managing director of social media training provider Institute of Online Business, said some businesses wanted to increase their number of "likes" on Facebook due to a school of thought that believes in a correlation between sales and "likes" on the social media hub. "I know from my own point of view if I go to a website page and I see 146,000 likes, I'm pretty much going to like it myself," Ms Coughlin-Smith said. Page B4.-- Robert Green, the recently appointed chief executive of VicForests, said he believes that "we will see some significant changes to the way timber is allocated". The state government body was founded eight years ago by the Labor Party to sell native timber at auction in a bid to return a revenue to the state. Mr Green's appointment follows the release of a report by consultant URS for Treasury into VicForests' first five years, which said the state body had been restricted by a lack of control over the section of native forest available to industry. Page B8.-- Recent office market figures from the Property Council of Australia have revealed a stark fall in vacancy rates in Victoria's Southbank to 6.4 percent in January, a fall of 34 percent over the last 18 months. Baird Mackie, associate director of office leasing at real estate group Savills Australia, yesterday said tenants' view of the area was different. "Eight years ago we had to drag tenants kicking and screaming from the other side of the river," he said. Page B9.-- According to a recent study by real estate group CB Richard Ellis, Sydney and Melbourne were the third and eight-most expensive cities in the world for renting retail space. "Retailers are unskilled and ill-prepared compared with landlords," Lee Trevena from online information systems service Synetek said. "Rent is the second biggest cost for a retailer after wages, but they don't have experts in the business," he added. Page B10.--