On the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, stock markets begin the trading day depressed — but not by fear of more violence.
Uncertainty over guidance from Lehman Brothers casts a pall over the entire banking sector, including Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs .
Analysts at several firms, including JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Sanford Bernstein, cut price targets and widen loss projections for Lehman. But Sanford breaks from the pack in predicting that Lehman will not suffer as badly as Bear Stearns did.
On the other hand, Art Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies, isn't even remotely reassured by events.
"We thought getting news out of Lehman was going to clear the dark cloud but it really doesn't. It just leaves us with a company that's limping along, that may or may not make it," Hogan tells Reuters.
What You Were Reading:
Martin Hennecke is more moribund: The senior manager of private clients at Tyche tells CNBC that the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will devalue the U.S. dollar and engender a full depression.
Uncertainty remains the order of the day. Some account for surprise upswings in stocks by pointing to the heavy short covering this week. (See CNBC.com's short activity analysis). Others voice genuine optimism.
"I think the perception on the Street is that...we're getting close to seeing a washout of the bad news as far as the financial sector is concerned," said Tom Schrader, managing director for U.S. equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets.
The Present Day:
European Union market regulators have not held any emergency talks regarding Lehman's fate, as they are sure the U.S. government will step in if it looks like doomsday, according to Eddy Wymeersch, chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators.
But Richard LeFrak, president of the LeFrak Organization, says the Lehman mess is only distracting everyone from even worse threats to the financial sector:
"I think WaMu's a bigger problem, frankly," LeFrak tells CNBC. "If they start having a run on the banks and people see the lines to get (their) cash out, that's real hysterical behavior."S&P