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Technology Stocks : Technology Stocks & Market Talk With Don Wolanchuk
GE 18.21-0.2%Nov 17 8:04 PM ESTNews

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To: da_cheif™ who wrote (35800)11/19/2008 10:51:50 PM
From: gregor_us  Read Replies (2) of 112857
 
This article in today's NYT feels historic to me. Whether it turns out to be historic, I obviously don't know. But it has a timeless quality to it that reminds me of other historic NYT articles published around times of enormous despair. "No one knows where the bottom is, and having been so wrong, few are prepared to say." You get the idea.

Best lines with great language:

Once again, investors’ confidence in the nation’s financial industry is draining away.

A gathering mass of bleak economic conditions seemed to approach the critical point, as fears of deflation and the auto industry’s waning prospects of a federal bailout drove financial markets into an afternoon selling frenzy.

nytimes.com
____________________________________________________________
November 20, 2008
Shares Near 6-Year Low, With More Losses Feared
By JACK HEALY

As the stock market tumbled to its lowest level in nearly six years on Wednesday, Wall Street traders and many ordinary Americans were asking the same question: Where, oh where is the bottom?

After a yearlong slide in stocks and a giant bank rescue from Washington, even some pessimists had hoped that the worst might be over. But now, after the Dow Jones industrial average fell below 8,000 on Wednesday, the financial crisis and the bear market it spawned seem to be taking a new, painful turn.

Once again, investors’ confidence in the nation’s financial industry is draining away. And once again, people are rushing for ultra-safe investments like Treasuries. Many analysts agree that the short-term outlook seems grim now that the Dow has fallen below 8,000, a level that had lured buyers again and again in recent weeks.

“When you break through these kinds of levels, it strongly suggests there’s more to go,” said Ed Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research.

But how much more to go? Dow 7,000? Dow 6,000? Many analysts are reluctant to say, having been proved wrong so many times before. The Dow has lost nearly 40 percent this year, and many of its blue chips, from Alcoa to General Electric, are down even more than that.

Much will depend on the course of the economy, but there is little good news on that front. On Wednesday, a new report raised concern that the economy might be beset by a debilitating decline in prices, or deflation.

But another big worry is that the credit markets, where this crisis began, are coming under even more stress than they were before. Junk bonds, for instance, fell to their lowest levels on record on Wednesday, driving the average yield on these high-risk corporate bonds to more than 20 percent. Yields on Treasury bills, meantime, fell to nearly zero. Investors were willing to accept almost no return just to know their money was safe.

The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year bill rose 1 25/32, to 103 20/32, and the yield, which moves in the opposite direction from the price, was at 3.32 percent, down from 3.53 percent late Tuesday.

Another source of concern is a possible new round of forced sales by hedge funds, seeking to raise the cash quickly to meet margin calls and redemptions of assets by investors.

Few stocks escaped unscathed. Shares of small and midsize companies fell, as well as those of Wal-Mart, the retailer. Energy companies plunged, as did airlines, fast-food chains and pharmaceutical companies.

But it was financial stocks that bore the brunt of the selling, and, for many analysts, seem the most worrisome. Financial shares are plunging far below the levels plumbed in October, when panic gripped the markets. On Wednesday, Citigroup, the hobbled financial giant, plunged 23.4 percent to a mere $6.40 in an avalanche of sell orders. Once the most valuable financial company in America, Citigroup is now worth less than U.S. Bancorp.

Big banks like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — all of which, like Citigroup, have received billions of dollars from the government — fell more than 10 percent.

Goldman Sachs, the former employer of Henry M. Paulson Jr., the Treasury secretary, sank to its lowest level since it went public in 1999. Analysts predicted that Goldman, the most profitable bank in Wall Street history, would suffer its first loss as a public company.

Even Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which owns the Geico Corporation and recently invested in Goldman Sachs, fell 12 percent, its steepest decline in more than two decades. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 427.47 points or 5.07 percent, at 7,997.28. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index closed down 6.12 percent or 52.54 points at 806.58 while the technology-heavy Nasdaq ended down 6.53 percent at 1,386.42.

But even as markets tumbled, analysts saw few signs of capitulation, that final burst of panicked selling that typically marks a market bottom. If anything, Wednesday’s new lows are a sign that Wall Street has farther to fall.

“The market is still anticipating that we have not seen the worst,” said Ryan Larson, head equity trader at Voyageur Asset Management.

After precipitous declines this autumn, Wall Street had spent the past weeks testing its yearly lows by dipping sharply, only to rebound late in the day. The testing and retesting prompted some optimists to hope that the markets had finally found a foothold.

But Wednesday’s drop proved them wrong.

A gathering mass of bleak economic conditions seemed to approach the critical point, as fears of deflation and the auto industry’s waning prospects of a federal bailout drove financial markets into an afternoon selling frenzy.

Auto shares fell as the leaders of the three American automakers reprised their appearance on Capitol Hill to discuss an emergency bailout and the threat of bankruptcy. General Motors was down 10 percent, to $2.79 a share, and the Ford Motor Company was down 25 percent, to $1.26.

Crude oil settled at a 22-month low at $53.62 a barrel, and energy stocks followed them lower.

Wednesday’s losses followed news that consumer prices dropped 1 percent in October, a record one-month decline, according to the Labor Department. Energy prices, which tumbled 8.6 percent over the month, led the declines.

Meanwhile, housing starts in October fell 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted 791,000 from the prior month, the government reported on Wednesday. For the year, housing starts were down 38 percent and building permits were 40 percent lower, reflecting how the housing industry has slammed to a halt amid tumbling home values, slumping sales and tighter credit markets.

Asian stock markets opened sharply lower on Thursday. Trade data from Japan, Asia’s largest economy, showed big drops in exports compared with a year ago. The Nikkei 225 index in Japan dropped 4.3 percent soon after the opening. Similar falls were seen in South Korea, where the Kospi fell 3.9 percent.
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