BERLIN -- Europe may finally be awakening from its summer slumber.
Now that cooler temperatures have descended upon the Continent, fund managers will have more to hold their interest than whether the Riviera or Greece offers the best tan.
Indeed, the coming week's agenda offers up a host of diverse issues: the continuing wobbly position of the euro, a
European Central Bank
meeting, a stirred-up technology market and the proposed merger of the London and Frankfurt exchanges.
euro continue to tumble to new lows against the dollar, as it did in late trade Friday, some of the pessimism from the foreign exchange market could spill over to the equity markets. That's because the lower the euro falls, the greater the likelihood the ECB will need to ratchet interest rates higher to contain inflation, which could also hurt growth.
Although no one is expecting the ECB to hike rates after next Thursday's Governing Council meeting, ECB President
will be afforded his first true opportunity to speak out on the euro's renewed slide since Europe's monetary authorities raised borrowing costs two weeks ago. Since a weak euro makes foreign goods more expensive, it increases the risk of importing inflation from abroad.
Ever since German Chancellor
made comments that sent the euro plunging last week, the region's politicians have tried to talk up the currency. Late Friday, prior to a joint announcement by the region's finance ministers supporting a stronger euro, the currency was trading lower at $0.8652.
Some of the ministers attending a regular Euro Group meeting over the weekend said that despite the euro's slide it wasn't yet time for the ECB to intervene directly in the foreign exchange markets to prop up the currency. "That type of remark of course only leaves the market curious to discover at what level the time might be right," points out
economist Alison Cottrell.
meets Monday, and it is rumored that the Germans will postpone a vote on whether to merge with the
London Stock Exchange
. The British have already postponed a vote on the merger pending the hostile takeover bid by Sweden's
Chairman Werner Seifert
has repeatedly said there is no need to postpone the iX vote scheduled for Sept. 14, but unnamed sources surfacing in the press have begun to say it is increasingly likely that a decision will be deferred.
Even if the exchanges can't get it together, plenty of Europe's technology companies apparently can, as evidenced by last week's announcement that Italian Internet company
plans to buy the Dutch Internet service provider
in an all-stock deal for 5.9 billion euros ($5.15 billion). The deal will create Europe's second-largest ISP after
and will likely help keep investors focused on the sector in the coming week.
Since T-Online only last week announced its intention to buy Spain's
, a German/Spanish-Dutch/Italian battle royal for Europe's Web users may be in the making. Both groups may eventually try to bid for the U.K.'s
, which has long been considered to be up for sale.