Thursday, 9 October 2008

Altogether now

Markets got their coordinated rate cuts, although Japan sat out. Bloomberg reports:

The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and four other central banks lowered interest rates in an unprecedented coordinated effort to ease the economic effects of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed, ECB, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Sweden's Riksbank each reduced their benchmark rates by half a percentage point. The Bank of Japan, which didn't participate in the move, said it supported the action. Switzerland also took part. China's central bank separately cut its key rate 0.27 percentage point...

The Fed reduced its benchmark rate to 1.5 percent. The ECB's main rate is now 3.75 percent; Canada's fell to 2.5 percent; the U.K.'s rate dropped to 4.5 percent; and Sweden's rate declined to 4.25 percent. China cut interest rates for the second time in three weeks, reducing the main rate to 6.93 percent.

Stock markets had been plunging throughout Wednesday before the rate cuts, but the move didn't completely save markets.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index fell 1.1 percent to 984.94 at the close in New York, capping a 16 percent loss in six trading days. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slumped 6 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average lost 9.4 percent to 9,203.32 earlier today, before the announcement.

In falling, the US market also seemingly ignored what could be a hopeful sign for the housing market. From MarketWatch:

Despite the credit crunch gripping the U.S. economy, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that an index of sales contracts on previously owned homes rose 7.4% in August from the prior month.

Such a response -- or lack of response -- provides another confirmation that we are in a bear market.

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