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S&P Warning To 15 Eurozone Members No Shock To The System - HSBC

Max Skjönsberg

8 December 2011

European equities had already priced in Standard & Poor’s decision to put 15 out of 17 eurozone countries on negative watch earlier this week, according to HSBC.

The UK bank said that equity markets in Europe only dropped slightly after the news that the rating agency is keeping an eye on Germany, France and 13 of their single currency fellows.

The two left out of the warning were Cyprus, which is already being monitored, and junk-rated Greece. Six eurozone members are triple-A rated: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Luxembourg.

HSBC also said that strong German factory orders for October, which were up 5.3 per cent compared to a consensus expectation of just 1 per cent growth and consecutive falls three months on the trot, helped to offset the impact on equities.

However, the move by S&P was bad news for the strength of the euro, which has declined slightly subsequently. HSBC also believes that the euro is also likely to be under pressure from expected additional cuts in interest rates by the European Central Bank.

The long-term global view at HSBC is that emerging markets currencies will appreciate against most developed world currencies, including the euro, the US dollar and sterling.

The single currency has held up surprisingly well against the dollar in 2011 despite the problems in the eurozone. UK-based Baring Asset Management recently said it doubts that the euro can stay strong given the imminent threat in the region and has downgraded the currency to a strong underweight position.