Fear on the Street: Inside the Stock Sell-Off

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Fear on the Street: Inside the Stock Sell-Off

Post by Desperado on Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:58 pm

Fear on the Street: Inside the Stock Sell-Off




By Jeff Macke | Breakout – 1 hour 15 minutes ago

Stocks posted a severe drop today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 4.3% and the Nasdaq crumbling over 5%.

By the end of the day there were few places left to hide. Gold, silver, crude and yields on Treasuries all fell sharply as traders looked for safety and were met by nothing but falling prices. Over the last 10 trading days stocks have lost more than 10%, the traditional definition of a market correction.

Today's selling started in Europe and picked up steam as American investors, already twitchy in the wake of the debt ceiling debacle, suddenly preferred cash over all other assets. The selling began overseas, but we have more than our share of problems in the U.S. as well.

There's a growing realization among even the most optimistic investors that the United States is entering a new recession -- a dreaded "double-dip." Adding to the pain is the sense that the government and Federal Reserve are out of both ideas and ways to stimulate the economy. Corporate America is sitting on record amounts of cash but is refusing to make new investments with so little end demand for its products. Consumers and corporations are hoarding cash, and the economy appears to be seizing. The debt ceiling debate was a fiasco, snuffing any remaining confidence traders had for help from Washington, D.C.

The bottom line is traders are becoming convinced that we're facing a prolonged and severe recession, and there's nothing any government on Earth can do to stop it. In that context, selling stocks or "reducing exposure" as they say on Wall Street, is quite rational.

So what should people at home do? Avoid panic, for starters. The swiftness of this correction is unusual, but a 10% drop is not. Just last summer stocks fell 17% on concerns not unlike those we face today. If you're an investor who can't sleep tonight, you're probably too exposed to stocks. Sell until you can sleep. Nobody ever made good financial decisions scared or tired.

Today was the first sign of fear stocks have seen in a year. To paraphrase Churchill, that may not be the beginning of the end of the selling, but it's the end of the beginning. It's extremely unlikely we're going to see good economic news anytime soon. A terrible jobs number tomorrow is now assumed, and a good one will be considered either incorrect or flat-out fraudulent.

Take hope for a quick economic recovery out of the equation and ask yourself this: If you woke up tomorrow and stocks were set to open down another 1,000 points on the Dow, would you buy or sell? Whatever your answer is, you'd be well served to consider doing it a little bit at a time now.

Trying to "call the bottom" by going all in at once is a fool's game. Be patient, be calm and tune out the panic. In a market this volatile, prudence is the only rational strategy available.


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Re: Fear on the Street: Inside the Stock Sell-Off

Post by Desperado on Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:00 pm

Wall Street suffers worst selloff in two years

ReutersBy Caroline Valetkevitch | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors fled Wall Street in the worst stock-market selloff since the middle of the financial crisis in early 2009 in what has turned into a full-fledged correction.

The Dow and the S&P tumbled more than 4 percent on Thursday and the Nasdaq lost 5 percent on fear the United States is staring at another recession and that Europe's sovereign debt crisis is swallowing two of its largest economies.

Analysts predicted further losses even though stocks have fallen on nine of the last 10 days. Two-year Treasury yields fell to a record low as investors sought safety in short-term government bonds.

"People are throwing in the towel because they can't find relief on any front," said Milton Ezrati, market strategist at Lord Abbett Co. in Jersey City, New Jersey, which manages $110 billion in assets.

The S&P 500's drop puts it more than 10 percent below its April 29 high, considered a correction. Nearly 14 billion shares changed hands, the busiest trading day in more than a year. Decliners beat advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by about 19 to 1.

The market's recent malaise stems from a number of factors. U.S. economic data has worsened, suggesting slowing growth from already sluggish pace in the first half. Europe's sovereign debt crisis has defied remedies and threatens to engulf large euro-zone economies Spain and Italy.

"The debt troubles in Europe, especially with the yields on Italian and Spanish government bonds soaring, are making investors gather as much liquidity as possible," said Stephen Massocca, managing director of Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 512.46 points, or 4.31 percent, at 11,383.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 60.21 points, or 4.78 percent, at 1,200.13. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 136.68 points, or 5.08 percent, at 2,556.39.

Some 13.92 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, the highest since June 25, 2010, and well above the daily average of around 7.48 billion.

Losses occurred in all sectors. Among stocks hitting new 52-week lows were Bank of America, down 7.4 percent at $8.83, Citigroup, down 6.6 percent at $34.81, and Hewlett-Packard, down 5.1 percent at $32.54.

Among sectors, losses in energy and materials outpaced others, with S&P energy down 6.8 percent and materials down more than 6.6 percent.

U.S. crude futures settled down $5.30 to $86.63 a barrel in New York.

The CBOE Volatility index jumped 35.4 percent to 31.66, its highest since July 2010. It was the biggest rise since February 2007.

Overseas, the European Central Bank signaled it was buying government bonds in response to a deepening European debt crisis. In Japan, the government intervened in currency markets to stem recent gains in the yen.

On Friday the government releases July's payrolls report, a closely watched number to gauge the U.S. economy.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; Additional reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Re: Fear on the Street: Inside the Stock Sell-Off

Post by John Chisum on Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:46 pm

Asian stocks tumble after heavy sell-off on Wall Street

4 August 2011 Last updated at 20:12 ET - BBC Business News

Asian stock markets have slumped on Friday, extending a global equity sell-off after Wall Street had its worst day for almost three years.

Japan's main Nikkei 225 index shed 3.4% to 9,329.75. South Korea lost 4.2%, while Australia slid 2.4%

On Thursday, shares in the US and Europe tumbled on fears about the strength of the US economic recovery and the eurozone debt crisis.

In the US, the main Dow Jones index had its worst day since October 2008.

The Dow closed down 512.76 points, or 4.3%, at 11,383.68, and came after the leading European bourses fell more than 3%.

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