CNBC's Schacknow: Wachovia's Big Secret


"Leaks" Plugged
I’m always impressed at how often people like CNBC’s David Faber or our partners at The Wall Street Journal manage to break a story about a big takeover deal before it’s announced -- so many times that I’ve lost count.

That’s probably a tribute not only to skilled reporters, but also to how hard it is to keep a secret on Wall Street. That makes it even more impressive that this morning’s $6.8 billion dollar acquisition of A.G. Edwards by Wachovia came as a complete surprise -- not that Wachovia would make such an acquisition, but that there were no rumors or hard stories on it in advance.

Yes, I know it’s supposed to happen that way. Nonetheless, it didn’t prevent “Squawk Box” segment producer Matt Greco from springing into action and quickly booking Wachovia CEO Ken Thompson to appear on the air, to explain the strategy behind the move. I’m still wondering how Wachovia managed to keep a secret in a world of loose lips.

How’d That Happen?
One of the many fascinating aspects of the stock market is how quickly any given situation can change.

Since I start my day by working on "Squawk Box," I arrive around 5:15 a.m. (ET) and leave sometime in midafternoon, before the market closes for the day. My usual routine is to check on the markets after the long drive home, just to catch up on any breaking news.

When I left here on Wednesday, investors were still digesting the latest FOMC minutes, but nearly an hour after the fact, the major averages were little changed on the day.

Imagine my surprise upon learning that the Dow had soared more than 100 points -- and that the S&P 500 had finally broken through its 7-year-old record close.

Imagine my chagrin at learning that all the handy factoids I’d left behind were now useless.

Imagine my confusion when I learned that investors had completely changed their minds about the implications of those Fed minutes. Whereas at first blush, investors had focused on the continuing inflation problem, they later shifted to the idea that the Fed’s economic view implied an interest-rate cut by year’s end.

Result: the first record close for the S&P 500 since March 24, 2000, and the first joint closing record for the Dow and S&P 500 since the final day of 1999. And speaking of how quickly things can change, the Nasdaq set its most recent record in March 2000 as well, at 5048 -- and is still, seven years and change later, at about half that. All while I was paying attention...