Global markets were acting like they were on the verge of a collapse on Thursday, the day after the Federal Reserve's Operation Twist announcement. The selling was ugly and is likely to get even worse in October.
In Asian trading last night, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong barely avoided a mini-crash, falling 4.9% (5.0% is the cutoff) or 912 points. The Sensex in India shed 704 points and was down approximately 4.0%. The market is attempting to cover a gap on the charts made two years ago. The chronically- bearish Nikkei in Japan was down only 2.1%.
In Europe, both the FTSE in the UK and the DAX in Germany also almost closed in mini-crash territory. The FTSE was down more than 5.0% at one point, but managed to rally toward the end of day. The DAX closed down 4.96%, just a whisker less than a mini-crash. The CAC-40 in Paris wasn't as fortunate. It closed down 5.3%. European banks were in the forefront of the selling with French banks being particularly hard hit. French banks are heavily exposed to Greek government and corporate debt. UK banks were also down considerably because of problems left over from the 2008 Credit Crisis.
The U.S. markets opened down and got worse as the trading day proceeded. The Dow closed down 391 points or 3.5%, the S&P 500 39 points of 3.3%, the Nasdaq 83 points or 3.3%, and the small cap Russell 2000 21 points or 3.2%. Banks stocks in the U.S. received bad news with Moody's downgrading the credit ratings of Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. Moody's indicated that it believes bailouts will be less likely in the future.
Commodities were not immune to the selling with gold, silver, oil and copper experiencing significant downside action. Spot gold traded as low as $1722.30 in New York. December futures were down as much as $78.50 at one point. Spot silver traded as low as $35.41. Both gold and silver had some recovery from their lows. Crude Oil (West Texas Intermediate) fell to $80.89 and was down $5.03. Economically-sensitive copper was crushed falling as low as $3.46 a pound. It was down 8.6%. Copper has fallen more than 20% from its all-time high in February and is technically in a bear market. The price behavior of copper is supposedly the best indication of global economic activity.
The key levels for investors to watch are the August lows for stocks and commodities. These were tested today on the Dow Industrials and the Russell 2000. If these get taken out, things should really start to get interesting. These levels have already been broken in France and the major emerging markets. Technical analysts should note that the Dow Industrials, the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 all formed a very clear head and shoulders topping pattern in August and September.
Author: "Inflation Investing - A Guide for the 2010s"
Organizer, New York Investing meetup
This posting is editorial opinion. There is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.