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January 21, 2008

Black Monday: Worldwide Sell-Off On Economic Jitters

The sell-off seems based on US declines. So it could be the US declines are already baked in the cake and won't fall further.

But I doubt that. This seems big enough to rattle US investors, at least for a time.

Stocks fell sharply worldwide Monday following declines on Wall Street last week amid investor pessimism over the U.S. government's stimulus plan to prevent a recession.

U.S. markets were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the downbeat mood from last week's market declines there circled through Europe, Asia and the Americas. Britain's benchmark FTSE-100 slumped 5.5 percent to 5,578.20, France's CAC-40 Index tumbled 6.8 percent to 4,744.15, and Germany's blue-chip DAX 30 plunged 7.2 percent to 6,790.19.

In Asia, India's benchmark stock index tumbled 7.4 percent, while Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng index plummeted 5.5 percent to 23,818.86, its biggest percentage drop since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Canadian stocks fell as well, with the S&P/TSX composite index on the Toronto Stock Exchange down 4 percent in early afternoon trading. In Brazil, stocks plunged 6.9 percent on the main index of Sao Paulo's Bovespa exchange.

Investors dumped shares because they were skeptical that an economic stimulus plan President Bush announced Friday would shore up the economy that has been battered by problems in its housing and credit markets. The plan, which requires approval by Congress, calls for about $145 billion worth of tax relief to encourage consumer spending.

"We've taken our lead from the Asian markets who have not been impressed by the U.S. There's debate if there's going to be a recession in the U.S. I don't think there's much chance of that though," said Richard Hunter an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers Ltd. in London.

Concerns about the outlook for the U.S. economy, a major export market for Asian companies, has sent the region's markets sliding in 2008. Just last Wednesday, the Hang Seng index sank 5.4 percent.

"It's another horrible day," said Francis Lun, a general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong. "Today it's because of disappointment that the U.S. stimulus (package) is too little, too late and investors feel it won't help the economy recover."

It's the biggest sell-off in London since the 9/11 attacks.

Never fear, though: Hillary Clinton says that, if she is president, "the federal government would take a more active role in the economy to address what she called the excesses of the market and of the Bush administration." So that should presumably stop all this unpredictable, non-state-authorized buying and selling behavior.


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posted by Ace at 03:43 PM

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