Wall Street's anxiety about the subprime mortgage business spread around the world overnight, ripping into stock prices globally. U.S. stocks are heading lower this morning, but so far lack signs of the wild selling of yesterday afternoon.
After the Dow's 2% decline, big losses were seen across Asia and into Europe. Tokyo lost 2.9%. So far, Europe's major markets are all trading more than 1.5% lower and, like yesterday, have been weakening as the U.S. open approaches.
Wealth in America Report
CNBC's exclusive Wealth in America Report will be unveiled today on "Power Lunch," but we got a sneak peek at one item in the survey last night on "On the Money." What the survey found is that even after the selloff of two weeks ago, investors for the most part feel pretty good about their stock investments. A good 60% see stocks rising in the next 12 months, though 51% don't think they will rise that much. We look forward to our Steve Liesman telling us more about the survey, what people say about their wealth, investments and the economy.
Interestingly, bullish sentiment declined to 45.5% from 46.2% in the latest Investor's Intelligence poll. If you believe in contra-indicators, that would be a positive trend. Bearish sentiment rose to 28.9% from 26.9% but those expecting a market correction declined.
Watch the Financials
That's what Managing Editor Tyler Mathisen told the editorial team at CNBC yesterday, and he's right. Some of the biggest losers in world markets were financials, and as history shows they sometimes are the first group of stocks to tip when markets turn. They are also in the cross hairs of the shots being fired at all institutions that could have had anything to do with subprime lending. For that reason, we will watch closely when Lehman reports earnings today. Goldman Sach's gigantic profit report yesterday did little to calm the street, even after it declared it was not impacted by subprime and would hunt for opportunities in the subprime junkyard.
GM issued its much-delayed fourth-quarter results today, reporting a $950 million profit, its second profit in two years. Our Phil Lebeau asked GM CEO Rick Wagoner on "Squawk Box" about many things, including the subprime world. Wagoner said he expects the economy should pick up as the year moves along. He also said GM sees the decline in housing leveling.
In an interview with our Larry Kudlow yesterday, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said the problems in the subprime mortgage market appear contained and that he doesn't expect a credit crunch for consumers.
Our Rick Santelli is very good at spotting trends in the markets. In fact, early in the afternoon yesterday, he told me the Dow would close down more than 200 points. It would be nice to have his crystal ball. But Santelli also points out something else: "Subprime isn't the story. The story is repricing credit and repricing risk, and of course subprime shows it first because of the very definition. You see the stresses in the weakest credit areas," he says "The financial institutions have arbitraged credit and risk out of the market. They offered credit and loans to people who couldn't afford it. I don't think it's the consumer. It's the business of fast money at financial institutions playing out to the final chapter."
Certainly, we will be watching the financial sector closely today.