Monday, May 10, 2010

Euro Bailout Revives Markets... and How!

If anyone was thinking the markets couldn't get any more extreme than they did last week, Monday morning's festival of funding, courtesy of the European Union and the IMF, to the tune of nearly $1 Trillion.

According the the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. market's surging open followed strong gains in the Asian and European markets after the European Union agreed to a EUR750 billion ($955 billion) bailout, including EUR440 billion of loans from euro-zone governments, EUR60 billion from a European Union emergency fund and EUR250 billion from the International Monetary Fund.

Most of the gains came right at the open, which kept individual investors shut out for the most part. The major indices gapped up within 5 minutes of the open by roughly 4%.

Following Thursday's "magic moments," which witnessed a drop and subsequent rebound on the Dow in a matter of less than 15 minutes, market observers have plenty reason for skepticism. After Bob Brinker called the Thursday move, "manipulation," veteran trader Art Cashin, head of floor operations at UBS, said live on CNBC, referring to Friday's non-farm payroll report, "188,000 was a guess by the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Further, he said, "keep your eye on the referee. This game isn't on the up and up," referring to possibly the entire market.

All of this market volatility should come as no surprise to anybody who's been following the financial crisis over the past 2 1/2 - 3 years. Nations, and their political leaders, have a vested interest in keeping their worthless currencies in play, regardless the consequences down the road. Mountains of debt have been piled upon other mountains of debt around the world. The EU bailout was a long time in coming and a hard morsel to chew on for beleaguered leaders. Essentially, they had no choice, though the future seems as uncertain as ever, if not more so.

Stocks bounded higher in Europe and the US, with the average index gaining somewhere between 3 and 5 percent. Asian markets were more subdued, excepting Indonesia and India, which were both highr by 3 1/2 to 4%.

As usual, bank stocks - both in the US and in Europe - led the advance.

Dow 10,785.14, + 404.71 (3.90%)
NASDAQ 2,374.67, +109.03 (4.81%)
S&P 500 1,159.73, +48.85 (4.40%)
NYSE Composite 7,257.62, +341.44 (4.94%)

Advancing issues led decliners by an enormous margin, 6036-696. New highs regained their edge over new lows, though not my a meaningful margin, considering the momentous advance. There were 143 new highs to just 37 new lows. The idea that there were any new lows at all was remarkable, and also notable was the volume, at lower levels than on most of last week's down days.

NYSE Volume 7,876,002,500.00
NASDAQ Volume 2,858,059,750.00

Chances are good that throwing a trillion dollars at Europe's problems will stabilize markets for a while, but, like their TARP counterpart in the fall of 2008, the effects could be very short-lived. As with the TARP in the US, the average European citizen will not likely embrace the bailout of banks and government while the populace goes hungry.

Commodities were mixed on the news. Oil regained some of what it lost over the past week, gaining $1.69, to $76.80, but gold was down $9.60, to $1,200.40. Silver slit the difference, gaining 10 cents, to $18.53.

Largely ignored were two items: Ratings agency, Moody's, received a Wells Notice from the SEC, signaling that enforcement action was forthcoming; Fannie Mae posted a $13 billion loss for the first quarter and asked for another $8.4 billion in federal assistance.

One thing that seems certain: The comparisons of Wall Street to Las Vegas are unfair. Las Vegas is a much more friendly place for individuals. The odds stay the same and the rules don't change over the weekend. These comparisons are only giving Las Vegas - a place where anyone and everyone gets a fair shake - a bad name and should cease. We'd like to call Wall Street a den of wolves, but we actually like wolves.

No comments: