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Trader Talk with Bob Pisani

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  Monday, 6 Oct 2008 | 12:04 PM ET

Why Traders Won't "Touch" This Market

Posted By: Bob Pisani
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  Monday, 6 Oct 2008 | 9:14 AM ET

Europe's Battle In The Credit Crisis

Posted By: Bob Pisani

a) As European authorities renegotiated two bailouts this weekend, Europe is opening notably weaker today as most bourses are down about 4 percent; the UK and France hit a four-year low, France a two-year low.

b) BNP Paribas SA said it would take a 75 percent stake in the remaining operations of Fortis (the Belgium and Luxembourg operations).

While Fortis had big problems with its credit derivatives portfolio, remember that last year Fortis attempted to buy the banking arm of ABN Amro. That deal ($33 billion) became a problem when shareholders feared Fortis would not be able to procure the loans to pay for it.

Separately, the German government unveiled a $68 billion rescue package for Hypo Real Estate.

c) The Russian market was halted twice, and is also at a three-year low.

d) Iceland suspended trading in its banks.

Commodities:

a) Oil broke below $90 for the first time since February as the dollar rally (and perceived demand reduction) continues.

b) Gold is also rallying, as are gold stocks, which are up about 4 percent pre-open on modest volume.

c) The Baltic Exchange Dry Index hit a two-year low.

d) Commodity stocks like Massey, Potashand Anadarko Petroleumare down about 7 percent pre-open.

Elsewhere:

1) Hartford Financialup 9 percent pre-open; they will receive a $2.5 billion capital investment from German insurer Allianz. They also warned of a large third-quarter loss ($8.50 to $8.80 a share),with core earnings at a loss of $1.50 to $1.60 a share (estimate was for gain of $0.71) ; the vast majority of the losses are write-downs on its investment portfolio. They also announced a 40% cut to their quarterly dividend.

2) Bank of America down 5 percent after making a roughly $8.6 b deal with U.S. attorneys-general to settle risky loans originated by Countrywide.

3) EBay will cut global work force by about 10%.

  • Japan Off 4%, China Falls 5%
  • Dow to Open 200 Points Down
  • World Markets Data
  • Oil Falls to 8-Month Low Below $90 a Barrel
  • Battered Euro Sinks, Yen Soars as Crisis Bites

_____________________________
New from CNBC.com:

- The Dow 30 at a Glance

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_______________________________________
CNBC's Names in the News:

Bank Of America

EBay

_______________________________________


Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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  Friday, 3 Oct 2008 | 4:06 PM ET

Why The Rally Failed

Posted By: Bob Pisani

What happened to our rally? Stocks rallied going into the vote. The rescue bill passed a little after 1 pm ET, floor traders broke into applause and then spent the next half hour processing sell orders.

What happened is that that traders executed the only trade that has consistently worked this year: sell into any rallies. To boot, there were actually modest profits in the major banks this week, as JP Morgan, for example, closed yesterday at a 52-week high.

The attacked along predictable lines: sell financials, then consumer discretionary stocks like Macysand Whirlpooland Lennar, and airlines.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that credit markets have posted only modest improvements today.

The good news is that the Ben/Henry Capital Management team is now open. Well, not open, but they are moving in the furniture, and they have a $350 b check.

The question is, what's the bid-ask for this stuff? It's not all the same stuff, of course, but Merrill was disposing of stuff at $0.22, other firms were selling in the mid to high $0.60 range, so let's call it 22 bid, 55 ask for starters.

  • Now, What About Stocks?
  • What's in the Revised Measure
  • Why There's a Tax Break for ArrowsThe juiciest story of the day was the Wachovia/Wells Fargo/Citi food fight. It's a simple story, at heart: as issuance of short-term commercial paper declines substantially, commercial banks are going to be forced to increase their reliance on deposits.
  • That means those deposits will have real value now, and Wachovia'svalue has increased in the past two weeks.

    Where's the bottom in housing? The Wells Fargo Chairman, on our air, said people will be surprised at how fast money comes into housing industry after it hits bottom. Sure didn't help housing stocks today.

    Next week, economic news is light, but it's earnings that will matter. After the close on Tuesday: Alcoa. Before the open on Friday: our parent, General Electric.

    For the week: Industrials down 7.3 percent, Transports down 12.8 percent, S&P 500 down 9.3 percent, NASDAQ down 10.7 percent.

    _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance

    _____________________________


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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      Friday, 3 Oct 2008 | 11:43 AM ET

    California Screamin': We Need Gov't Loan

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    That's not Wall Street! Here's the headline of the day: California might need emergency loan of $7 billion--unable to access routine short-term loans.

    Stock traders are more confident the TARP bill will pass the House today than they were a couple days ago, exactly because of headlines like the one above. Even Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is warning that the state is running out of money. The credit crisis is spreading, and that reality is sinking in.

      • House Debating Bailout Amid Hopes It Will Pass

    This makes the Citi/Wells Fargo/Wachovia dance very interesting. As issuance of short-term commercial paper declines substantially, commercial banks are going to be forced to increase their reliance on deposits.

    That means those deposits will have real value now, and Wachovia'svalue has increased in the past week. This food fight for Wachovia (and other banks that have relatively healthy deposits) is not over.

    Finally, imagine the frustration of being a risk arbitrage trader. The Wells Fargo/Wachovia was a beautiful opportunity for them (go long Wachovia, short Wells Fargo) but since you can't short Wells Fargo, you can't do arbitrage.

      • Governor Arnold To the Fed: I'll Be (In The) Black

    _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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      Friday, 3 Oct 2008 | 9:25 AM ET

    Traders Just Plain Confused

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    Want graphic evidence of how confused traders are? Stock futures rallied for a couple minutes on the Wells Fargo/Wachovia deal,then quickly dropped. Futures dropped again as non-farm payrolls came out below expectations, then rallied back a few minutes later.

    As poor as the jobs report was, traders were fearing worse. Plus, bulls are arguing that the Wells/Wachovia deal is a positive; add it to likely House passage and you have the makings of a modestly positive opening.

    But there are so many cross-currents it is difficult to discern any pattern other than confusion.

    1) Wells Fargo, in a surprise move, announced it was buying Wachoviafor about $15.1 billion. Wells trading up about 6 percent; Wachovia up about 75 percent.

    What happened to the Citigroup deal? Most traders assumed that Citi/Wachovia, under the supervision of the FDIC, was a done deal.

    Not to Wachovia's CEO, Robert Steel, and not to big Wachovia shareholders. They get to keep the company relatively intact under this new deal (Citi would have acquired only the banking operations--the brokerage and asset management would have been left behind), and the government is not involved.

    • How SEC Let Bank Debt Surge
    • Slideshow: Bank Failures of 2008
    • UBS to Cut 2,000 More Jobs
    • House to Take Another Crack at Bailout
    • JPMorgan Buys Failed WaMu Assets

    Wachovia shareholders will get 0.1991 shares of Wells Fargo stock for each common share of Wachovia. That's about $7 per share for Wachovia, which closed yesterday below $4.

    An attractive deal for Wells, since it extends its banking operations into the East coast. Wachovia's impaired assets will be recorded at fair value. Wells will issue up to $20 b in new securities.

    So is this good or bad news? Most traders think it's mixed: it shows that the private sector can work things out to a certain extent. Unfortunately, credit markets have not improved and until that occurs most traders believe we will stay down.

    This also increases the drama around the passage of the House bill, as some will argue that this deal lessens the need for government intervention.

    2) Financials: most are rallying. Sovereignup 15 percent, Regions Financialup 12 percent, Credit Suisse,Deutsche Bankand ING up 5-7 percent.

    We had been expecting Citi to announce details of its $10 b common stock offering late Wednesday, but nothing happened. Citi down 15 percent pre-open.

    JP Morganclosed at a 52-week high yesterday! Citiand Bank of America have both been stronger as well recently.

    Is this strange? Bulls have argued there will only be a few really strong banks left, and the above will be the leaders. Still, it seems clear that risk has increased in recent weeks. There's reports of slower growth in the U.S. and overseas, weak capital markets, and more losses in the credit markets.

    3) AIG has begun the process of selling off non-core assets. They will keep the U.S. property and casualty and foreign general insurance business, and it appears most of the rest of the company is for sale.

    AIG Chairman and CEO Edward M. Liddy will be on our air at 10:30 am ET.

    _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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      Thursday, 2 Oct 2008 | 4:16 PM ET

    Worry Is DEFLATION And GE's Credit Market Woes

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    Another notably weak market day: 5 to 1 declining to advancing stocks...and a pike in New Lows at the NYSE. Also notable is the magnitude of the point decline: I track about 1,300 stocks...of that, 500 are down 5 percent or more. That is very unusual. What happened?

    Yes, there is some anxiety about the bill not passing in the House, but there are even bigger things going on.

    First, we had a Trifecta: oil, gold, stocks all down! That is rare.

    The worry is DEFLATION, not INFLATION. Even Trichet gets it now.

    Look at the Dow Transports down 8.7 percent. Point decline of 399 points....is the largest point decline IN HISTORY for the Transports. In percentage terms, it is the 15th biggest drop. Trucker Con-Waycame out and slashes guidance. Demand for freight services seemed to have dropped notably in September. They are cutting prices to maintain market share. Demand for freight services appears weaker.

    Fertilizer demand also appears to be down: Mosaicdisappointed with its earnings report. All the fertilizer stocks are down. The global slowdown trade is also continuing, with many engineering, industrial and material stocks at new lows.

    Finally, the OTHER GREAT WORRY is the credit market freeze-up. Our parent company, General Electric, priced a large secondary at $22.25 this morning, largely to deal with its difficulty rolling over short-term commercial paper. If GE is having trouble rolling over paper, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

  • Is This Really the Market Bottom?
  • Five Ways to Play This Wild Market
  • Jim Cramer's Web Exclusive: Pans
  • Buffett's Three Rules for Crisis Investing
  • _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

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      Thursday, 2 Oct 2008 | 11:55 AM ET

    What Will Trigger A Broader Rally

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    Despite the bearish comments from many companies (I outlined them in my Trader Talk note earlier ), there are a surprising number of traders who are arguing there is reason to start feeling more optimistic.

    The bull case is that what is happening is:

    --massive deleveraging

    --reduced reliance on commercial paper (CP) market

    The end result will be smaller, more concentrated businesses that are better capitalized. There may be:

    --4 major banks, several important regionals

    --8 airlines, all powerful

    --6 major, publicly traded housing companies.

    What will trigger a broad rally? Two things need to happen:

    --lower borrowing costs

    --resolving short-term funding issues

    How can we resolve the short-term funding issues that are paralyzing markets?

    --we need counterparty risk perception go away--we need to have enough guys long credit default swaps to get burned

    --confidence needs to return--Charles Campbell at Miller Tabak noted that famed fund manager Anthony Bolton had said this morninghe was bullish on the UK market.

    Warren Buffett commiting money--albeit with a great return--is another confidence builder. We need more.

      • Panicky Investors Making Some Bone-Headed Moves
  • Is This Really the Market Bottom?
  • Five Ways to Play This Wild Market
  • Jim Cramer's Web Exclusive: Pans
  • Buffett's Three Rules for Crisis Investing
  • _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance

    _____________________________


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Thursday, 2 Oct 2008 | 9:18 AM ET

    GE, Fertilizer Stocks, Truckers, Autos, And Financials

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    1) Word on the Street is GE, our parent company, is pricing the common stock offering at $22.25; waiting on final size.

    2) Fertilizer stocks are down notably this morning, as Mosaic reported earnings well below expectations. Mosaic down 20 percent, Potash down 12 percent, Terra Industries and CF Industries down 10 percent, Agrium down 9 percent.

    Mosaic appears to have cut phosphate production on lower demand and lower prices. Another factor in the decline in demand is lower corn prices; corn is a more fertilizer-intensive crop than, say, soybeans.

    Last week, we pointed out a Citi report that noted urea prices were down. This note was widely passed around on the Street, and many traders felt the drop was largely due to difficult obtaining credit for fertilizer.

    2) After the close, two companies came out with comments on the slowing economy:

    --Cooper Tire said they were "adjusting" their production schedule due to softer demand and raw material shortages;

    --Trucking giant Con-Wayslashed its guidance. Douglas Stotlar, Con-Way's CEO, said the economy had been "battered by an unprecedented confluence of macroeconomic crises, curtailing demand for freight transportation services." He also said that the traditional peak seasonal uptick has been "muted."

    The bottom line: there is global DEFLATION, not INFLATION.

    3) Financials: UBSsaid it will post a small profit in the third quarter, and will be profitable in 2009. Up 1 percent, most banks are trading up fractionally.

    4) Autos awful: after yesterday's awful U.S. car sales numbers, several European car companies were cautious: Volkswagen said it would consider cutting production if the current market trends continue, and BMW's CEO said it was unlikely there would be a recovery in the auto market before mid-2009.

    The dollar is rallying again, as the euro is under pressure.

    5) The SEC extended its ban on short selling in financials to October 17th, but may end sooner if Congress passes the rescue package.

    Still, there was some disappointment that there was no further clarification on what if anything would happen after that. There has been widespread speculation that some kind of "circuit breaker" rules would replace the ban.

      • Jobless Claims Highest in 7 Years

    6) No free lunch: Increasing the the FDIC coverage limit from $100,000 per individual account to $250,000 may be good policy, but it will cost banks a pretty penny.

    In a note this morning, Bernstein estimates the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will need to increase by roughly $25 billion (56%), which would equate to a one-time hit of roughly 1.3 percentage points of ROE for U.S. commercial banks and thrifts. It is unlikely the FDIC will require the DIF to be replenished in as little as one year.

    7) Freeport-McMoran removed from Goldman's conviction buy list.

    _______________________________________
    CNBC's Names in the News:

    GE

    Mosaic

    _______________________________________


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Wednesday, 1 Oct 2008 | 3:11 PM ET

    GE, Buffett And (Finally) Moving In The Right Direction?

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    GE'sannouncement of a $15 billion capital raise($12 b in common, $3 b in preferred to Warren Buffett with a 10 percent dividend) is difficult news for shareholders, but everyone agrees that two things need to be done:

    1) We need a conduit for the bad debt, and that is the purpose of the TARP plan under consideration by Congress.

    Mr. Buffett, in an interview with our Becky Quick, spoke eloquently about the need for the TARP, noting that it is only the Federal government that has the capital and the staying power to address this on the level it needs to be addressed.

    Mr. Buffett put his money where his mouth is, saying he would take 1 percent of the Treasury purchases of any mortgage assets at the market price.

    2) Raise more capital. Firms with significant financial exposure, which includes General Electric, have to raise money. We have seen capital raises recently from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, now General Electric, and we expect one shortly from Citigroup, probably tonight. There will be more, from regional banks and insurance companies.

    GE stock is trading up about a dollar above where it was prior to the announcement. More importantly, GE credit spreads eased considerably. The cost of buying a credit default swap for five years on GE debt is now $495,000 to insure $10 million in debt; it was $680,000 to insure $10 b in debt prior to the announcement.

    GE is the parent company of CNBC.

    Bottom line: no one is arguing we are out of the woods, but we are taking baby steps toward there.

    _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance

    _____________________________

    _______________________________________
    CNBC's Names in the News:

    GE

    Ford

    _______________________________________


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

    »Read more
      Wednesday, 1 Oct 2008 | 1:58 PM ET

    Short Selling Ban In Financials Likely Extended

    Posted By: Bob Pisani

    SEC ban on short selling in financials is likely to be extended, NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer said on a webcast with NYSE listed companies and reporters.

    Niederauer has been in "regular communication with the SEC" concerning the ban. They have still not decided what they will be doing, but it's likely the ban will be extended.

    However the SEC recognizes the ban is "not a permanent solution" and we will shortly see some clarification on longer-term rules.

    Niederauer said that one option being considered was to bring back the uptick rule. Niederauer said he is in favor of bringing back the uptick rule.

    Also being discussed is a circuit breaker for individual stocks, where a certain percentage decline might halt trading in the stock for a certain period of time.

    _____________________________
    New from CNBC.com:

    - The Dow 30 at a Glance

    _____________________________

    _______________________________________
    CNBC's Names in the News:

    GE

    Ford

    _______________________________________


    Questions? Comments? tradertalk@cnbc.com

    »Read more

    About Trader Talk with Bob Pisani

    • Direct from the floor of the NYSE, Trader Talk with Bob Pisani provides a dynamic look at the reasons for the day’s actions on Wall Street. If you want to go beyond the latest numbers— Bob will tell you why the market does what it does and what it means for the next day’s trading.

     

    • Bob Pisani

      A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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