Monday, October 6, 2008

Late Rally Saves Stocks

The continuing credit crisis took its toll on frazzled investors again on Monday, with the Dow down as much as 800 points shortly before 3:00 pm. From that point forward, however, stocks rallied across all indices shaving the losses by more than half in the final hour.

Dow 9,955.50 -369.88; NASDAQ 1,862.96 -84.43; S&P 500 1,056.89 -42.34; NYSE Composite 6,754.91 -334.03

What moved stocks late in the session was a rumor of an emergency G8 meeting, ostensibly to explore global options for dealing with the ongoing banking crisis. More likely is the assumption that there are now real bargains being scooped up by daring speculators. One can hardly blame them, though catching the falling knife is seldom a smart move.

There should be little doubt right now that it was banks and bank practices which caused the overly long bull market from November 2002 through August 2007 and it is those same banks and bank practices - now in reverse - that have been and are causing the decline in stocks and the run to fixed instruments.

Most of the carnage has been caused by the large money center banks which have become increasingly wary of each other, owing to the massive structure of derivatives, including the now-unpopular credit default swaps which have just recently become the focus of the financial media.

Of course, the arcane instruments which banks have employed for years to spread and/or minimize risk are now at risk themselves. The result is the possibility of a fast-falling house of cards in the enormous (estimates vary), roughly $56 trillion derivatives market.

If you think you're worried, imagine the naked fear in the board rooms and CEO suites of major financial firms. It's a knife-to-the-throat environment in which everybody and everything is almost equally at risk.

One might conclude that the world is going to end, or that some major economic catastrophe was about to occur, but the truth is that the event is ongoing, unwinding and probably will continue for some months, until banks and governments conclude that the worst is already behind us.

Chart watchers and Fibonacci adherents should note that a bottom may be near. Implications of this are spelled out more fully in this month's Fearless Stocks and Options Advisory.

In any case, the markets are now entering a new and precarious phase. The two forces at work over the next 4 weeks will be corporate earnings reports for the third quarter and the US presidential election. The former will affect individual stocks, whereas the latter should have more impact upon markets and indices in a more generalized way.

On the day, market internals were about as negative as we've seen, even including recent volatile sessions. Decliners swamped advancing issues by a massive margin, 5613-722, a ratio of nearly 8-1. New lows registered at a phenomenal 2804 stocks, with only 10 new highs. More than 2 of every 5 stocks reached new 52-week lows on Monday. All of these signals point to imminent capitulation by market participants.

Volume was particularly heavy, but the closing rally (over 400 points on the Dow) should be somewhat of a salve for the buy-and-hold mindset.

NYSE Volume 1,974,275,000
NASDAQ Volume 3,493,974,000

Commodities were mixed once more, with oil taking a severe hit at an important level, crashing through the $90/barrel mark. Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $6.07, settling at $87.81. Gold was up $33.00, at $866.20, but silver lost 4 cents, closing at $11.29.

As has become somewhat of a mantra for me, there are signs of deflation everywhere. By the time this is all over, cash and credit-free positions will be highly valued and everything from cars to candy bars should cost less. The effects of tighter credit and slower demand take some time to work through economies, and this environment is no different.

No comments: