Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008

LATEST: Rob Curran

Article from: Dow Jones Newswires

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged nearly 500 points in the last hour of trading after reports Reutersthat president-elect Barrack Obama would name Mr Geithner to the top Treasury post.

Buyers became energised after a report by NBC News that Mr Obama will personally unveil Mr Geithner as the incoming Treasury boss at a news conference on Monday, along with other members of his economic team.

The report by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who is married to former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, cheered depressed investors, even though there was no immediate confirmation.

“The market is running up on the news that Timothy Geithner will be the next treasury secretary,” said Peter Cardillo of Avalon Partners.

“Maybe it can bring confidence back.”

Yet the Dow still lost more than 5 per cent on the week, as Citigroup plunged to levels not seen in 15 years and traders worried about the survival of General Motors and Ford.

Mr Geithner, 47, is intimately familiar with Wall Street and worked on recent rescue efforts for the financial system. Those rescue efforts are a work in progress, however.

Citigroup fell US94 cents, or 20 per cent, to $US3.77, taking its losses to 60 per cent for the week and 72 per cent for November as the bank scrambles to review strategic options.

Selling of Citi’s shares grew heavier after chief executive Vikram Pandit said he had no desire to sell the Smith Barney brokerage unit. The stock’s close was the lowest for Citi since the last day of 1992; it has lost more than $US53.8 billion ($67.7 billion) in market value in November.

“It’s mind-boggling,” said Bud Haslett, chief executive of Miller Tabak Capital Management.

Traders say the Treasury Department’s decision last week not to buy distressed assets abruptly changed the outlook for banks.

“The change in the direction of the Troubled Asset Relief Program was the major thing” weighing on financials, said Peter McCorry, senior equity trader at Keefe Bruyette & Woods. “Changing the rules of the TARP is an indication that the rules can and will change mid-game.”

The Dow rose 494.13 points, or 6.54 per cent, to 8046.42, its biggest gain in more than a week.

The broad S&P 500 index rose 47.59 points, or 6.32 per cent, to 800.03, a day after closing at its lowest mark since 1997. The tech-oriented Nasdaq Composite added 68.23 points, or 5.18 per cent, to 1384.35. For the week, the Dow lost 5.3 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 8.4 per cent and the Nasdaq was down 8.7 per cent – and all three had their biggest drops in four weeks.

In response to Wall Street, the Sydney Futures Exchange’s December share price index futures contract jumped 68 points to 3500, representing an 83.5-point premium to the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index and suggesting a solid start to the Australian market on Monday.

The Australian dollar settled offshore trading at just above US63 cents.

In the most volatile Wall Street market since the 1930s, traders say it takes little to push the market in one direction or another.

“We’re dealing with a lot of redemptions,” said one manager at a fund of funds, indicating that forced selling due to clients’ requests for cash is ongoing.

Goldman Sachs Group rose $US1.31, or 2.5 per cent, to $US53.31, finishing the week with a loss of 20 per cent. Morgan Stanley rose US85c, or 9.2 per cent, to $US10.05, but declined 16 per cent on the week.

The model of Wall Street banks is under strain as investments across all asset classes turn sour, and trading with leverage goes out of style.

KeyCorp fell US64c, or 9.3 per cent, to $US6.27 after the regional bank slashed its dividend.

Dell shed US51c, or 5.2 per cent, to 9.30. Third-quarter profit exceeded the Wall Street estimate, helped by cost cuts, but revenue fell to $US15.16 billion from $US15.65 billion a year earlier.

The shopping season begins in force next week, and traders will see if consumer-spending fears are justified. The Consumer Select Discretionary SPDR, a basket of retailers and other consumer stocks, rose $US1.12, or 6.9 per cent, to $US17.45, but fell 9 per cent this week, just one of many wild swings.

Gold mining companies surged as a wave of “deflation” fears receded for now.

Gold is used as a safe haven, but also a hedge against inflation, a market worry that was replaced by deflation lately. Newmont Mining added $US5.79, or 25 per cent, to $US28.79, but has fallen by almost half since its peak.

In Europe, the London FTSE 100 index fell 2.43 per cent to 3780.96 points — its lowest closing level since April 3, 2003, capping an overall fall of 10.68 per cent for the week.

In Paris, the CAC 40 plunged 3.33 per cent and in Frankfurt the DAX shed 2.20 per cent, with banks Allianz and Deutsche Bank among the heavy losers.

“Although this morning saw a slight rally for the UK market, the afternoon has seen these gains eroded with the market nose diving,” said David Jones, a strategist at IG Index in London.

“Sentiment this week has turned even gloomier than we have been used to of late.”

Additional reporting by AFP and staff writers



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