"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Happened In The Market?

We had bad Case-Shiller and bad Consumer Confidence figures, and the markets still ended on the up side of mixed (Dow up 20.51, NASDAQ down 4.39, S&P 500 up 0.07). What happened?
Reuters, at least, gives the credit indirectly to the blizzard and directly to energy stocks being boosted by an increase in oil prices. Why the blizzard? It helped push oil prices near to a 26-month high (February oil futures were up $0.38 to $91.38 a barrel), and the rising oil prices helped push oil producers up in the markets.
I haven't seen the figures yet, but it wouldn't surprise me to see that commodities in general were either flat or down today - China announced that it will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals[1] by 11.4%. This is a concern, because these elements are used in quite a bit of high-tech manufacturing[2], and because China produces something like 97% of these minerals. The EU, the United States, and Japan are particularly upset, and there is some possibility that the US will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
The Singapore Exchange is in the process of trying to take over the Australian Exchange to the tune of $8 billion US dollars. This is somewhat controversial in Australia, because their major exchange would become a subsidiary of the Singapore Exchange, and the government of Singapore owns 23.5% of the Singapore Exchange. As of December 15 the deal had been approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Now it just has to be approved by the Treasurer of Australia, pass through the Australian Parliament[3], and then be approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Investors are cautious.
[1] There's reasonable list available on Wikipedia.
[2] Wind turbines, hybrid cars, iPhones, flat screen TVs, and anything else that has a use for magnetism, luminescence, and strength.
[3] Which seems to be of the opinion that the merger is "fanatical marketism that is taking away our sovereign right to self determination"

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