Friday, November 27, 2009

Desert Bubble Bursts, Blows Sand in Market's Face

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America was on holiday for Thanksgiving, but London unexpectedly joined it with a halt in trading for over three hours on Thursday. The LSE (London Stock Exchange) computer system just simply stopped functioning. It couldn't have come at a worse time. Major selling was taking place before the trading halt because Dubai's state-owned Dubai World announced a 6-month 'standstill' for payment of its massive debt. While the mainstream financial media described this action as a potential default, failure to make debt payments in a timely fashion is a default, period. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. It is estimated that Dubai World has $60 billion in foreign debt outstanding with British and European banks holding two-thirds of that. The ever alert U.S. rating agencies Moody's and S&P promptly downgraded Dubai World's debt, once again giving the appearance that they are the last to know when a financial problem exists.

Dubai's problems were already known during Asian trading on Thursday ( Wednesday night in New York) and the Shanghai market dropped 3.6% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong was down 1.8%. Things got worse in Europe Thanksgiving day. The unexpected technical problems on the LSE (not the first time this happened by the way) caused worry to turn to panic. This is a typical reaction to traders when they can't access a market and there is some bad news floating around. They will sell down other markets which are open and when the closed market reopens, there is a bigger drop than there would have been. Banks stock were particularly crushed on Thursday, bringing back memories of last years Credit Crisis. Royal Bank of Scotland was down 7.6%, Barclay's down 6.7%, ING down 6.4%, Deutsche Bank down 5.7%, and Standard Chartered down 5.7%. The FTSE in England was down 3.2%, the DAX in Germany down 3.3% and the CAC-40 in France down 3.4%

Credit default swaps (insurance on bonds) rates rose precipitously throughout the Gulf region - another blast from the Credit Crisis past. The problems in Dubai have been brewing for a long time and it is hardly the only place in the world where there are financial problems remaining. It is merely the first new blow up. Dubai's faith was sealed with the general global collapse in 2008. The government has been stonewalling its creditors ever since, assuring them everything was fine. Earlier this month, the ruler finally told Dubai's critics to shut up. In February, Dubai received a $10 billion bailout from the UAE central bank. On Wednesday, another $5 billion was forthcoming.

Predictably, money moved into the U.S. dollar as markets reacted to the latest crisis. Considering the the trade-weighted dollar plunged on Wednesday, falling as low as 74.23, a rally was not unexpected as is. The yen hit a 14-year high against the dollar and rumors are rife that the Bank of Japan might intervene to drive the yen down, like the Swiss central bank did on Thursday when it sold francs against the dollar. Spot gold managed to eke out another all time high by a couple of points in early overseas trading Thursday after its strong rally on Wednesday. It then fell as low as $1180, but then bounced back up to $1190.

Stocks in Asia got clocked again in Friday trading. The Nikkei in Japan was down 3.4%, closing at 9082. For those who haven't been paying attention, the Nikkei broke key support at 10,000 a while ago - the weakest stocks market usually sell down first. Shanghai was down 2.4%. Hong Kong and South Korea had the biggest damage though, falling 4.8% and 4.7% respectively. Traditionally, a one drop of 5% or more is considered a crash. .

The global market contagion moved to New York this morning. The Nasdaq gapped down 58 points or 2.7% and the S&P 500 was down 25 points or 2.3%. The Dow, which takes a long time to open when there is major news, was down around 200 points or 2.0% on the first print. The dollar was as high as 75.58 today so far. Oil got hit more than any other asset and was down 5% at one point falling as low as $72.39 a barrel. Gold plummeted to $1139 around 2AM New York time, but has already traded as high as $1178 today. All the major European markets gapped down strongly, but turned positive for the first time around 7:30AM. They will close up nicely.
U.S. markets close early today and volume is incredibly light which allows for large moves in either direction. Monday is the key day to see if there is going to be any long-term impact from the Dubai fallout.

Disclosure: Long gold.

NEXT: Dubai Default Damages Denial

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21


This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.






2 comments:

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PENNY STOCK INVESTMENTS said...

The desret storm has begun.