Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stocks Routed Worldwide; NASDAQ Capitulates

Stock indices from Tokyo to Toronto suffered major losses again on Thursday as the global depression deepened and General Motors (GM) contemplated bankruptcy unless it receives additional financial support from the US government.

As the steady pounding continued, following the first gains in a week (yesterday), investors wiped out nearly double the amount of Wednesday's gains.

Dow 6,594.44, -281.40 (4.09%)
NASDAQ 1,299.59, -54.15 (4.00%)
S&P 500 682.55, -30.32 (4.25%)
NYSE Compos 4,267.60, -197.29 (4.42%)

There was no standout sector or industry spared from the widespread carnage, as the NASDAQ finally became the 4th major index to fall below the previous, November 20 lows. On that date, the NASDAQ closed at 1313. Today's close was 1% lower and comparable to October 2002 levels, when the NASDAQ bottomed out following the dotcom bust on October 9, at 1114.11.

As has been the case for months, US banks were at the center of the storm. Citigroup (C) traded below $1.00 for a brief time during the morning, closing down another 0.11, at 1.02. Bank of America (BAC) closed down 0.42, to 3.17, while JP Morgan Chase (JPM) tumbled 2.70, to 16.60. All of those were among the major losers of Dow components, though General Motors took the prize as the day's biggest, losing 0.34, to 1.86, a decline of 15.45%.

On the Dow, only 2 of 30 components gained ground. Pfizer (PFE) added 0.17, to 12.67. Wal-Mart (WMT) was up 1.26, to 49.75, as the nation's largest retailer saw improved same-store sales for February and increased its dividend to shareholders.

Market internals were a shambles, with decliners overwhelming advancing issues, 5823-842, a 7-1 ratio. New lows shot up to levels seen only in the September-November meltdown, with 1527 stocks reaching new 52-week lows versus only 7 new highs. Volume remained elevated, as it has over the past 7 sessions.

NYSE Volume 1,878,339,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,314,223,000

Oil futures were off $1.77, to $43.61. Gold emerged as a safe haven, up $21.10, to $927.80. Silver added 21 cents, to $13.12.

Prior to the opening bell on Friday, the Bureau of labor Statistics releases February Non-farm Payroll numbers. Expectations are for another 630,000 job losses.

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