False optimism wars with bad omens—and the latter wins.
Lehman Brothers gains 5 percent following news that Ospraie Fund, a commodities fund in which Lehman had a 2-percent stake, will close and return money to investors, after incurring big losses in 2008.
But CNBC's Charlie Gasparino reports that the Ospraie affair "could be a big blow to Lehman." (Find out why: Watch Gasparino's full report, below--or click here.)
Lehman's discussions with Korea Development Bank about a potential KDB investment in the US financial firm seems to founder after two other banks involved suddenly distanced themselves from the deal chatter. Market scuttlebutt suggests HSBC is also a Lehman suitor.
In a deceptively hopeful sign, Fannie Mae shares rise after it sells $2 billion of short-term debt at a lower interest rate than the previous week. But Fannie shares end 1.5 percent lower. Freddie Mac
gains 3.9 percent after the firm sells $3 billion of two-year notes. Analysts say solid demand for the offerings indicate both firms have healthy access to debt funding.
What You Were Reading:
- BlackRock Seeks Huge Fund to Buy Leveraged Loans
- Palin Prepares to Fire Back with Convention Speech
- In Tough Times, NY Restaurants Downsize Lobsters
More false optimism arises as General Motors shares jump 5.8 percent—the biggest gainer on the Dow—afterreporting a 20-percent sales slide, at the low end of the predicted 19 to 37 percent range.
And Home Depot is the Dow's No. 2 gainer, up 4.5 percent, after its CEO says the housing sector will turn around after early 2009.
The Mortgage Bankers Association says applications for U.S. home mortgages had risen the previous week, as loan rates eased.
The dollar hits an 11-month high against the euro, as belief spreads that the credit crunch tsunami would turn on Europe—and that the U.S. has already weathered the worst.
The Dow ekes out a small gain, after two losses.
Crude oil prices fall 36 cents a share to settle at $109.35 a barrel.
What the Experts Were Saying:
The Ospraie Fund will close shop, and the money will be returned to investors — including Lehman Brothers. Charlie Gasparino reports.
Maria Bartiromo looks back at her exclusive interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, touching on America's oil crisis, economy and the presidential election.
Andrew Bell from Rensburg Sheppards warns that bank stocks could be a "value trap" — as the market may not pump more capital into the financial sector.