Dramatic Late Day Surge Lifts Market



Stocks staged a late rally to close mostly higher on Thursday after Reuters reported the Obama administration was working on a program to subsidize mortgage payments for troubled homeowners.

In a major break from existing aid programs, the plan under consideration would seek to help homeowners before they fall into arrears on their loans. Current programs only assist borrowers that are already delinquent.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended higher while the Dow retraced losses to close slightly lower as investors, starved for good news, bet this development could be a big step toward stabilizing the housing market.

Banks and homebuilders, which had helped drag the market lower throughout the session, more than halved their losses.

Also Thursday, lawmakers announced an agreement on the much anticipated stimulus package. Moving with remarkable speed, the $789 billion plan allocates about 36 percent of the money for tax cuts and 64 percent for spending and other provisions.

Strategy Session with the Fast Money Traders

I’m every bit as confused as I was before, bristles Jeff Macke. The devil is in the details and nobody knows what they are.

It’s unclear how the mortgage plan helps the banks, muses Karen Finerman. I wonder if some of these loans are already marked down. It’s possible that some of the loans that have been marked down could be marked back up.

It seems like a good idea to me, adds Guy Adami. They’re trying to put a floor under the market and housing is the place to do it. And I liked that we closed above 820 on the S&P , he adds. That’s a critical technical level.

I like that we’re getting a little more clarity, says Pete Najarian. That’s encouraging. And I like that they’re targeting the foreclosure problem.

Other Fast Money Musings

In the financials, I couldn’t help but notice that Morgan Stanley stayed in positive territory while the broader market sold off, early in the session, says Pete Najarian. I’m seeing a lot of put buying in this name, but I think it’s protection not a bet the stock is going lower. Want to play financials? Look no further than Visa and Mastercard , he adds . They’re talking about double digit growth and they’re both trading at quarter highs.

Of course many banks have exposure to commercial real estate and that's a big concern for Karen Finerman. Vacancies are going up and rents coming down, she says. Meanwhile paper is coming due and there’s no market to refinance the paper. I don’t think the government plan is a drop in the bucket on this issue.

As the conversation turns to to homebuilders , Jeff Macke says the rally in the space makes no sense. How can the plan lead to building more homes?

And in technology, Macke adds I’m long RIMM. But that was the hardest $1.50 that I made in my life.

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Trader disclosure: On Feb. 12th, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Najarian Owns (CAT) Call Spread, (ENER) Call Spread, (EEM) Call Spread, (GDX) Call Spread, (GLD) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (CHK) Put Spread; Najarian Owns (FCX) & (FCX) Calls; Najarian Owns (GS) Calls; Najarian Owns (MSFT) & (MSFT) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) & (MS) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MOS) Call Spread; Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Finerman's Firm Owns (DNA) & (DNA) Call Spread; Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT), (UNH); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IYR), (IJR), (IWM), (MDY), (SPY), (COF), (USO), (BBT); Macke Owns (RIMM), (AAPL), (MS), (TM), (SDS)

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