Tuesday, October 28, 2008

EconomicWatch: The Dow & The Conference Board

The Dow rose more than 800 points during a huge rally in the last hour of trading on Tuesday.

Earlier, the Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence fell to its lowest level in 41 years, with a reading of 38. That was well below the level analysts expected.

Also, there was more downbeat news on the housing market. The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city housing index dropped a record 16.6 percent from August last year, the largest drop since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index plunged 17.7 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history. Both indices have recorded year-over-year declines for 20 consecutive months.

Stock prices saw a rebound after Monday's late-session drop. Before the opening bell, global markets were rallying. The sharp rise in stock market futures contracts was to be expected given the extreme volatility that has been the hallmark of Wall Street's behavior for more than a month. The Dow Jones industrials fell 203 points at the 8,175 level after alternating between losses and gains throughout the day.

Markets in Europe were trading higher Tuesday after most Asian stock markets rebounded from several days of steep declines.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose a whopping 14.4 percent, its biggest gain in 11 years.

A weaker yen against the dollar encouraged traders to buy exporters like Toyota, whose overseas earnings are eroded by a strong yen. Japan's main index had earlier fallen below 7,000 points.

White House Tells Banks To Lend

An impatient White House is serving notice on banks receiving billions of dollars in federal help to quit hoarding the money and start making more loans.

White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters Tuesday that the Bush administration is trying to "get banks to do what they are supposed to do," which is lend money. Though there are limits on how much Washington can pressure financial firms, she noted that banks are regulated by the federal government. Perino said that the administration is watching lending activity very closely and working with the banks to step it up.

She said that Anthony Ryan, Treasury's acting undersecretary for domestic finance, was delivering a speech in New York on Tuesday that made this point.

Investors Watch Fed

Investors are awaiting the start of a two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve that is widely expected to bring another reduction in interest rates. If the Fed cuts interest rates, it will be the second reduction this month. The only question is just how substantial a cut it will be.


No comments: