Stocks in Asia, Europe and North America are falling as contagion from the Greek debt crisis continues to impact markets worldwide. Until there is some resolution, investors should expect this to continue along with intermittent sharp moves up thanks to central bank liquidity injections.
Trouble began in Asia last night with the Hang Seng in Hong Kong falling 537 points, or 2.8%. It closed at 18,918, well below the critical 20,000 support level. The Indian Sensex was down 188 points, or 1.1%, to 16,745. It has been leading Asian markets down and is trading on top of a very large gap made in May 2009. The Nikkei in Japan managed to buck the trend and close up 195 points to 8,864 or 2.3%. It has been mostly trading below key support at 10,000 since March when the Tohoku earthquake struck. All three markets are in a technically bearish trading pattern.
No part of the globe can escape what is happening in Europe. EU finance ministers said Friday they would delay authorizing a new installment of emergency funds for Greece until October. Greece still is on its first 110 billion euro bailout, but the final payments have yet to be made. A second bailout has yet to be fully approved, although the terms have been set. Greece’s fiscal situation continues to deteriorate rapidly despite all the funding it has received from the EU and the IMF. The bailout money is life support for Greece. If the plug is pulled, the patient defaults.
German stocks have been hit the hardest by the Greek crisis and have fallen well into bear market territory. After rallying from a severely oversold level last week, the DAX was down 157 points or 2.8% on Monday. The French CAC-40 was down 91 points or 3.0%. The British FTSE was down 108 points or 2.0%. U.K. stocks have been less affected by events in Greece (the U.K. is not part of the euro zone). As is the case in Asia, all major European markets are in a technically bearish trading pattern.
U.S. stocks actually have held up somewhat better than most other markets. The S&P 500 and small-cap Russell 200 have the same negative technical picture found elsewhere, but the Dow Industrials and Nasdaq have so far held just above it. In early afternoon trading, the Dow was down 205 points, or 1.8%; the S&P 500 21 points, or 1.7%; the Nasdaq 30 points, or 1.2%; and the Russell 2000 14 points, or 2.0%. A report released in the morning indicated that U.S. investors have pulled more money out of equity funds since April than they did during the five months after Lehman Brothers collapsed. The real history making news, however, was in the bond market, where the two-year Treasury hit an all-time low yield of 0.1491% — a sign of a global credit crisis if ever there was one.
Investors should expect more market drama from the unfolding Greek tragedy in the coming weeks and months. Unless Germany and France are willing to commit to unlimited bailouts, Greece eventually will default. Only then will we know how this affects Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy and the euro itself. Stocks are vulnerable to more volatility and downside until this occurs.
Author: “Inflation Investing – A Guide for the 2010s”
Organizer, New York Investing meetup
This posting is editorial opinion. There is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.