Thursday, August 18, 2011

Here We Go Again: Europe, US Equity Markets Smashed

Like a pop band performing an encore number, the wild, swing days of last week are here with us again, doing a sophisticated limbo beneath the various 200-day moving averages. The continent formerly known as Europe slowly is sinking into a combination of economic atrophy and social anarchy while the country previously preferred to as the greatest democracy ever invented, the USA, shifts and contorts like a belly dancer with stomach cramps and gas.

One could take their pick today from a generous selection of tawdry economic news and data, beginning with the story reported by Zero Hedge that an unnamed European bank (speculation is that its either Societe General or an Italian or Austrian bank) borrowed $500 million from the ECB's emergency lending window at a 1.1% rate.

That got the entertainment kicked off in Europe with a notable bang, as the major bourses in the land of socialism held blood-letting sessions with the national indices down between 4 and 6%, Germany's DAX leading the way lower with a 5.82% decline.

By the time markets opened in New York, futures were careening headlong into the abyss after initial unemployment claims were reported at 408,000 in the most recent reporting period and July CPI came in with a whopping 0.5% rise - a 6% annualized inflation rate - which took almost everybody - except possibly President Obama, who was preparing for a two-week stay at Martha's Vineyard - by surprise, especially after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told us all that inflationary pressures were "transitory" (he also confided to Representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul that gold was not money... such a witty fellow).

Were that not enough for the market to digest, a couple more tasty morsels were delivered just a half hour into the trading session. Existing home sales for July were reported at an annualized rate of 4.67 million, after a 4.84 million read last month, but the real hot pepper came from the Philadelphia Fed's Manufacturing Index, which, after posting a tepid 3.2 reading in July, came in - on expectations of a 1.0 reading - at... wait for it... minus 30.7 (yes, -30.7), the lowest number in 2 1/2 years and now on scale with New York's Empire Index which last week posted an equally disturbing negative read of -7.7 on Monday.

Naturally, nobody gave a whit about the New York number, but the Philly fiasco was just too magnificent to ignore. Stocks, already down significantly, swiftly dove further, with the Dow Jones Industrials losing 170 points in the ten minutes following the double dose of decrepitude.

The sudden collapse of index prices was stunning to view, though the gaping maws of CNBC's on-air personalities provided dark comic relief. Stocks drifted for the rest of the day, but managed to stage a last-ditch rally with just ten minutes left in the session, boosting the Dow about 100 points into the close, just in time for options expiry on Friday.

Dow 10,990.58, -419.63 (3.68%)
NASDAQ 2,380.43, -131.05 (5.22%)
S&P 500 1,140.65, -53.24 (4.46%)
NYSE Composite 7,079.41, -339.53 (4.58%)

Declining issues decimated advancers, 6094-634, a nearly 10:1 ratio. New lows overpowered new highs on the NASDAQ, 253-2 (yes, two, as in 2 new 52-week highs), while on the NYSE there were also just two (2) new highs, against 208 new lows. The combined figure of 4 new highs and 461 new lows verifies our repeated suggestion that the highs-lows indicator is as reliable a simple instrument as is available and is currently suggesting that the now-confirmed market correction will shortly morph into a a full blown bear market as Europe and the United State plunge into the fearsome double-dip recession, if not already there.

Volume, despite the ridiculous assumptions made throughout the day by CNBC's dapper Bob Pisani (I really do watch too much TV) that today's volume was not significant, was, in fact, quite strong, and with good reason, as banks in Europe and the US took the brunt of the selloff. European banks were hardest hit, with losses between 6 and 11% on the day.

NASDAQ Volume 2,785,477,500
NYSE Volume 7,141,215,000

Meanwhile, the oil crazies were unloading their gooey stuff as quickly as possible, sending WTI futures down nearly six percent, dropping $5.20, to $82.38.

There were bright spots, and those were in precious metals. Gold rocketed $28.20 to another record price of $1,822.00, while silver tried desperately to keep pace, gaining 38 cents, to $40.69.

As for Friday, one should expect a little more of the same, though it is worth noting that these wickedly manipulated markets have a penchant for turning on a dime, as they did last week. Eventually, however, this all ends in tears, as the Euro will be soon dispatched to currency hell, where it belongs, taking the world economy into a place nobody wants to be.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em and live it up while you can. By Christmas, this could be really, really, really, really, really, and I do mean really, ugly.

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