Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No Rest for the Wicked (or Corrupt, or Criminal); Beige Book Sinks Stocks

No news out of Europe to goose or grouse the markets? No problem, the Fed's October Beige Book provided yet another dim view of current financial, business and economic conditions across the United States.

As one might expect, the reporting in the 12 Federal Reserve districts was mixed, with business conditions showing slight improvement in most, but housing and employment remaining weak across most. Here is a good summary of each of the districts, from Dow Jones Newswires.

That was about all that mattered. CPI showed a jump of 0.3% in consumer prices, while the housing market showed a mixed picture. The Mortgage Bankers Association saw a 14.9% decline in mortgage applications in the most recent week (ended October 14) for new purchases and refinancing combined. Housing starts shot up to 658K in September after reporting only 572K in August, the figures based on an annualized model.

However, building permits dropped from 625K in August to 594K in September, suggesting a slight contraction in new home construction.

A huge drawdown in crude inventories last week of 4.729M barrels caused oil prices to dive, citing weaker than normal demand as the cause.

In a best-case scenario, most economists believe that the US will not suffer another recession, though growth remains flat to slightly improved. That is why the banking and debt crisis in Europe moves the markets. If Europe cannot solve its problems, there would be enough of a contagion to effect the US economy negatively.

The NASDAQ took the biggest hit on the day, following Apple's (AAPL) earnings miss, reported after the closing bell on Tuesday.

Dow 11,504.62, -72.43 (0.63%)
NASDAQ 2,604.04, -53.39 (2.01%)
S&P 500 1,209.88, -15.50 (1.26%)
NYSE Composite 7,240.26, -101.47 (1.38%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,013,483,875.00
NYSE Volume 4,869,994,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1752-4763
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 82-43
WTI crude oil: 86.11, -2.23
Gold: 1,647.00, -5.80
Silver: 31.28, -0.55

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