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Old 12-01-2008, 01:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Now that it's official: DOW drops 680 points

View: Dow Plunges 680 Points as Recession Is Declared
Source: Nytimes
posted with the TFP thread generator

Dow Plunges 680 Points as Recession Is Declared
December 2, 2008
Dow Plunges 680 Points as Recession Is Declared
It’s official: for the last year, the United States economy has been in recession, and the markets on Monday acted accordingly. As the trading day ended, the major exchanges were all down more than 7 percent.

The evidence of a recession has been widespread for months: slower production, stagnant wages and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. But the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research, charged with making the call for the history books, waited until now to weigh in.

In a statement released Monday, the members of the group’s Business Cycle Dating Committee — made up of seven prominent economists, most from the academic sector — said that the economy entered a recession in December 2007.

That was enough to send the Dow Jones industrial average, which had opened the day down 300 points, to more than double down. At the close, the Dow was off about 680 points or 7.7 percent in the last hour. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 8.93 percent. The Nasdaq was off 8.95 percent.

“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators,” the members said in a statement. “A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough.”

The committee noted that the contraction in the labor market began in the first month of 2008 and said that the declines in most major indicators, like personal income, manufacturing activity, retail sales, and industrial production, “met the standard for a recession.”

“Many of these indicators, including monthly data on the largest component of G.D.P., consumption, have declined sharply in recent months,” they wrote.

Analysts said that after last week’s gains — the biggest five-day rally in decades — a sell-off was to be expected.

“You had the biggest weekly gain in 30, 35 years,” said Anthony Conroy, head equity trader at BNY ConvergEx Group. “Some profit-taking is warranted.”

Still, Monday’s losses were striking. Stocks were dragged down by double-digit declines in shares of financial firms. Citigroup, a source of concern on Wall Street of late, dropped 11 percent; American Express and Bank of America were off about 10 percent.

“Financials led the rally on the way up, and they’re leading on the way down,” Mr. Conroy said.

Investors may also be playing defense ahead of Friday’s report on the job market, one of the most important monthly indicators of the health of the economy. Analysts expect that employers shed more than 300,000 jobs in November, underscoring the problems facing American workers and businesses.

This is the first official recession since 2001, when the economy suffered after the bursting of the technology bubble. The period of expansion lasted 73 months, from November 2001 to December 2007.

Monday brought its own share of poor economic news. The manufacturing industry suffered its worst month since 1982, according to a closely watched index published by the private Institution for Supply Management. The index fell to 36.2 in November from 38.9 in October, on a scale where readings below 50 indicate contraction.

That was the worst monthly reading since 1982, and a sign that the worldwide credit crisis was taking a serious toll on American businesses. New orders fell sharply, although export orders held steady from October.

“However you look at the numbers, the message is the same: manufacturing is in free fall, with output collapsing,” Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics wrote in a note to clients. “We see no prospect for near-term improvement.”

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed that spending on construction projects fell 1.2 percent in October, after staying unchanged in September. Private construction dropped 2 percent with a sharp drop in the residential sector, offering few signs of relief from the housing slump.

The declines on Wall Street came after stocks in Europe and most of Asia moved lower, as investors refocused attention on a gloomy economic outlook.

Benchmark indexes in Paris and Frankfurt were down more than 4 percent, and London’s FTSE-100 dipped 3.6 percent. The declines were minor compared with the 13 percent increase that European stocks enjoyed last week.

“We’re giving back some of the appreciation in equities that we gained in the last few weeks,” said Robert Talbut, a fund manager at Royal London Asset Management.

“I think in terms of valuations there are some good deals starting to appear,” Mr. Talbut said. “But valuations are never enough in themselves.”

Any serious market recovery would require a determined response from global governments, he said, but investors have lots of questions about how the policy measures that have already been announced will work.

Investors were also troubled by mounting evidence that consumer spending in the United States would fall sharply this holiday shopping season, choking off one of the prime fuels of American economic growth. Retailers received more business than expected over the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, but the steep discounts they used to lure customers could undermine profits.

Black Friday sales were 3 percent higher than the year before, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks the industry.

Asian stocks ended mostly lower. The Tokyo benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 1.4 percent, while the S.& P./ASX 200 in Sydney fell 1.6 percent.

The Kospi index in Seoul declined 1.6 percent. But the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 1.6 percent, and the Shanghai Stock Exchange composite index rose 1.3 percent.

United States government debt was strong amid the poor economic outlook and expectations that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates again soon.

The yield on the two-year Treasury note, which moves in the opposite direction of the price, fell to a record just below 0.95 percent, while the yield on the 10-year note fell to 2.86 percent, the lowest on record.

Investors expect the Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the European Central Bank to cut interest rates this week amid evidence that inflation is easing and growth flagging. “Evidence continues to build suggesting that these central banks have further aggressive monetary easing to undertake in order to stem the risks of a dramatic shift in price expectations going forward,” Derek Halpenny, a foreign exchange strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ in London, wrote in a note to investors.

The Federal Reserve’s main rate is aimed at 1 percent currently, though the effective rate in the market is 0.5 percent because of the enormous quantity of cash that the Fed has pumped into the market to keep foundering financial institutions afloat.

Crude oil futures for January delivery fell $4.54, to $49.88 a barrel.
I'm looking at some of these things and scratching my head. I know that some buildings locked in heating oil contracts at very high prices thinking that the same story was coming as previous years, record heating oil prices.

All the gains that have been made last week, are still just fits and struggles as investors are trying to hedge losses.

The young lady that sits outside my office usually shouts out how much the losses are for the day. I'm glad to not hear her today.
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
Let's put a smile on that face
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I think that now is an excellent time to start buying stocks in powerful companies if you have any money kicking around. Companies that are going to be around for the long haul and that are going to survive this.
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by blahblah454 View Post
I think that now is an excellent time to start buying stocks in powerful companies if you have any money kicking around. Companies that are going to be around for the long haul and that are going to survive this.
That's why I started buying GE, Dupont and Allianz a few weeks ago with the idea to hold them 5+ years.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - B. Franklin
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
Let's put a smile on that face
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I have had my eyes on GE, Baker Hughes (I work for them and am actually putting 10% of my salary into it) and Schlumberger.

Judging by historical GE stock values they should more than double once this shit has finished hitting the fan.
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
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Hold on tight and enjoy the ride.

My sister is buying a house - the first time prices have been low enough for her family to afford one.
"Sometimes I have to remember that things are brought to me for a reason, either for my own lessons or for the benefit of others." Cynthetiq

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Old 12-02-2008, 08:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
Please touch this.
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You have found this post informative.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Can't remember who it was on CNBC that said people are only going to be able to shop at Walmart and eat at McDonalds... those are two I'd go with.
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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At times like these, cash is king.

Oh, the disparity between what I know and what I do....
Knowing that death is certain and that the time of death is uncertain, what's the most important thing?
—Bhikkhuni Pema Chödrön

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.
—From "Burnt Norton," Four Quartets (1936), T. S. Eliot
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