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FX Market Stability

Senior Japanese Finance Ministry official Haruhiko Kuroda said on Thursday he was reassured by the current stability of the forex market. "Stable foreign exchange movements are desirable," he told reporters. "And I see no major problems in the movements in the market right now." However, traders interviewed by FX Week say they are concerned by the continuing lack of volatility in the market. "It's been too quiet recently," said one broker in New York. "And I see no reason why it should get busier any time soon. The preparations for Y2K mean that volumes are likely to decrease later in the year. I'm taking the whole of December off."

Liffe Connect to list STIRs

Liffe has announced the timetable for listing short-term interest rate contracts on its new electronic platform, Liffe Connect. The Euribor and Euro Libor contracts will be listed on September 20, 1999; although they will also continue to be traded by open outcry on the market floor. Liffe Connect also experienced some technical hiccups last week, as a software error led to the closure of trading on the system for an hour and a half on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the exchange says that the issue has been resolved and will not occur again.

CME Moves to Net Margins

The CME has announced that it is changing margin requirements for the house accounts of clearing member firms this month, from a gross to a net margin basis. "This programme is in direct response to requests from our member firms to help them reduce costs and more efficiently utilize their capital," says Scott Gordon, CME chairman.

French Banks Report Q1

The French banks have released first quarter results for the first time, with significantly better revenues than the first quarter of 1998. Paribas reports an increase in group net income to ¤565 million ($608 million), up 43 per cent from ¤394 million ($424 million) in the first quarter of 1998. The corporate and investment banking division, which includes foreign exchange, reports revenues of ¤721 million ($776 million), an increase of 24 per cent on the first quarter of 1998. A statement says the bank "has pursued the strategic objectives adopted by the core business, namely: control of risks and costs, reduction of the bank's presence in emerging countries (chiefly in Asia), and reduction of allocated equity, thereby enhancing overall profitability". Figures were converted using the March 31 closing rate of $1.0765 against the euro. The rate was supplied by Reuters.

SocGen

Societe Generale reports an increase in net income to ¤600 million ($646 million), for the first quarter, a rise of 52 per cent on the previous year. The corporate and investment banking division, which includes foreign exchange, reports net income of ¤281 million ($302 million), a 127 per cent increase on results for the division in 1998. Although the bank does not break out an FX figure, a statement released with the results notes that the fixed income, currencies and commodities business line, within the corporate and investment banking division, reports income of ¤108 million ($116 million).

BNP

Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) reports net income of ¤536 million ($577 million), an increase of 78 per cent on the previous year's first quarter results. The global clients and markets division, including foreign exchange, reports gross operating income of ¤381 million ($410 million), up 64 per cent on the previous year's figure. A statement released with the results notes, "The performance of the interest rate and foreign exchange business increased significantly." BNP was reluctant to publish a quarterly report. The statement says, "In the light of the initiative taken by Societe Generale and Paribas to release quarterly reports for the first time, in the context of the stock-for-stock public tender offers, it became necessary for BNP to do the same to ensure homogenous market information."

Swift Volume and Revenue

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift) reports an increase in volume and revenue during 1998. Network traffic rose by 15.4 per cent to 937 million messages, while revenues rose to ¤372 million ($437million), an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year. By the end of 1998, there were 6,557 institutions connected to Swift, an increase of 6 per cent on 1997. Results were converted using the euro/US dollar opening rate of $1.174 for January 4, 1999.

4Cast Live on Reuters Web

Commentary provider 4Cast has gone live as an optional service on Reuters Web. 4Cast, which specializes in the global foreign exchange, money and fixed income markets, previously distributed its service directly to customers rather than via vendors, because of their need for multimedia capabilities. Reuters also recently added Fuller markets, which offers analysis, forecasts and trading strategies for foreign exchange, equities fixed income and commodities to Reuters Web.

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