Posted by: Catherine | July 3, 2009

Stock Traders Beat Up Markets

It was one of the worst pre-July 4th holiday trading sessions in the history of the stock markets.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 223 points or 2.63% in what was a very broad based decline.  For a significant portion of the trading day all 30 of the Dow components were in the negative.  The technology heavy Nasdaq  lost nearly 50 points or 2.67% as well and the broadest measure of the three, the S & p 500 Index was off 26.91 points or 2.91%.  A large amount of the selling was attributed to the worse than expected non farm payroll report released this morning.

The employment situation report contains the unemployment rate, nonfarm payrolls and wage information.  The report as a whole was mostly in line with the low end of expectations, however payrolls came in at -467,000 well off the largest estimates of -435,000 and a substantial miss from the median consensus estimates of -350,000.  The unemployment rate came in slightly better than consensus at 9.5%.  Also initial jobless claims were better than expected neither of which helped the markets as they continued to focus on the payrolls throughout the day.

This week Citigroup was again in the headlines when it decided to piss people off in several new ways.  With the government adding new restrictions on employee bonuses the bank decided to raise salaries, some up to 50%, in order to retain people they consider “key employees”.  In a totally unrelated press release Citi said it would be raising rates on the credit cards of up to 15 million customers.  Citigroup was among the biggest recipients of federal aid receiving more than $45 billion in TARP funds.  Since 2006 their stock has tumbled 95% and over the last six quarters they have lost close to $36 billion.

Another very unpopular company was in the news this week, American International Group or AIG effected a 1 for 20 reverse stock split on Wednesday.  The measure was overwhelmingly approved by shareholders, but the stock fell over 22% on the day.  Before the split the stock was trading at $1.16 per share on Tuesday, but was down more than 20% in the  pre-market on Wednesday and closed the day at $18.08 per share.  Executives said the move was necessary to prevent the stock from being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.  In a strange coincidence the NYSE erroneously posted a suspension and delisting notice of AIG on the NYSE’s website, the notice was removed once the error was discovered.

Overall the stock markets have turned decidedly negative for the week and it was one of the worst first weeks of July in the history of the markets.  For next week earnings should be the driving factor for stocks.  Alcoa reports its earnings on Tuesday which traditionally kicks off earnings season.  Chevron, 3com, Progressive Corp among others all report their earnings as well.  Next week is pretty light on economic data releases the most important ones to watch are jobless claims on Thursday and Consumer Sentiment on Friday.

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