The calendar may have read the 30th of August yesterday, but the broad markets traded in a way that may prove more like the coming month of September. Bourses which have been cautious for a while turned negative on Thursday, Wall Street saw declines from all three major indexes. Asia has extended those losses as of this morning. While investors waited for slivers of dialogue from the Jackson Hole Symposium or for further comments from the ongoing debate between the ECB and Germany, it was actually Spain that stirred the drink with an announcement that they would postpone new economic measures that would allow for an additional 100 billion EUR of aid from Europe for at least one week. It was also reported that some regions that constitute Spain’s nation have begun to murmur that they have underestimated the amount of money they will need to cover their existing debt. It was the kind of day that must have made some in Greece experience ‘schadenfreude‘.
The EUR lost some ground to the USD, but it must be said that it was not an overwhelming decline and the Single Currency remains near values that some still consider high. Gold as of this morning is trading near 1658.00 USD and Crude Oil did falter a bit, but again not significantly. In essence it was the equity markets that took the worst of downbeat news from Spain.
Yesterday’s results prove that investors have in some respect already become immune to these type of ‘reports’ of further delays and mounting debts from the European Union. The E.U. has up until now proven that words have had the ability to create a base of support that has helped the Single Currency from falling on its face. The E.U. has also been helped by a steady diet of ‘whispers’ surrounding the Federal Reserve that some type of ‘stimulus‘ will come from the States. Also of note within yesterday’s market action was that the Italian bond auction found takers. Again, the ‘confidence game‘ being played by European officials has proven solid enough for the time being.
However, as we have asked here for a while, what would take place if and when it becomes clear that words will not be enough to solve the problems of Europe? What if enough officials decide based on tangible evidence that there is not enough money to cover the woes that the financial crisis encircles? How will the charade end? If it proves to be true that Germany not only has the desire to express resentment about having to pay for other nations problems, but the determination to actually stop its payouts, then this summer may go on to be described as the calm before the storm in the year ahead.
Data proved disappointing from all spheres on Thursday. The German Unemployment Change results were worse than expected, the U.S. weekly Unemployment Claims missed their estimate, and the GfK Consumer Confidence reading from the U.K. faltered. Today Retail Sales figures will come from Germany, the Nationwide HPI will come from the U.K., and the Chicago PMI statistics will come from the States. Also on the card will be the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Bernanke, who will deliver a speech at the Jackson Hole Symposium.
It should be noted that some U.S. investors may look for a quick escape from their offices today with the Labor Day weekend starting. Meaning that today’s volumes and results might be somewhat skewed. Many investors have positioned themselves as safely as possible in order to avoid any summer storms and it appears most investors achieved the calm they sought. But ladies and gentlemen, summer days will end this weekend and September trading will be upon us starting next week.