Wednesday, December 21, 2011

European Banks Borrow $639 Billion From ECB; Oracle Tanks Techs

Santa Claus came and went. Apparently, his next stop was in Europe, where today, 523 struggling banks on the continent grabbed for $639 billion (489 billion euros) from the ECB's newest lending facility, which offered a sweetheart of a deal: 1% interest over three years. We should all be so lucky.

The huge amount of borrowing was frowned upon in the US. As the news hit America's shores, futures went into the tank on the perception that the amount borrowed was much higher than originally forecast and the sneaking suspicion that although the European banking system was obviously weak, it actually was in much worse shape than originally thought.

Stocks sent almost the entire day underwater, as poor results from Oracle last night after the close sent shock waves through the tech sector. Though the Dow, which was down as many as 104 points, and the S&P finished marginally positive, the NASDAQ ended the day with a serious loss, though it too cut its losses roughly in half by day's end.

In Washington, there was still no progress on the bill which would keep the current social security payroll deduction at current levels and also extend unemployment benefits to about two million people, as the House of Representatives announced their work for the week completed.

The bill was soundly passed in the Senate, and rejected by the House, mostly along party lines.

Also in Washington today, the Justice Department announced a $335 million settlement with Bank of America (BAC), stemming from a DofJ claim that Countrywide - since acquired by Bank of America - discriminated against over 200,000 black and Hispanic mortgage borrowers by charging them higher rates and fees than white homeowners.

While the settlement was the largest of its kind ever, the amount is a mere pittance in comparison to the economic damage wrought by Countrywide and other lenders during the mortgage and housing bust. BofA will pay the money directly to the government and the DofJ will supposedly dole out the proceeds to individuals and families affected by the discriminatory practices.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who seems to only show up after his department settles a case, said, "With today’s settlement, the federal government will ensure that the more than 200,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers who were discriminated against by Countrywide will be entitled to compensation.”

It should be amusing to track exactly where that money goes.

There are just two more trading sessions before Christmas, three shopping days and a total of seven trading sessions remaining in 2011. Most investors can't wait for the year to end, as stocks have flat-lined for the most part and actually are well off the highs set in late April.

Dow 12,107.74, +4.16 (0.03%)
NASDAQ 2,577.97, -25.76 (0.99%)
S&P 500 1,243.72, +2.42 (0.19%)
NYSE Composite 7,388.52, +27.55 (0.37%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,866,553,125
NYSE Volume 3,574,281,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3153-2488
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 194-95
WTI crude oil: 98.67, +1.43
Gold: 1,613.60, -4.00
Silver: 29.25, -0.29

No comments: