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Credit Crunch Springs Back into Action

After taking some time off between Christmas and New Year, the credit crunch was well and truly back in action last week. Fears over further banking problems and sovereign debt downgrades for the likes of Ireland and Greece surfaced last month, but until now, these fears have merely been simmering in the background. Last week, the heat was once again turned up, and major fault lines are once again running through the global economy. According to Bespoke Investments, the S&P 500 suffered its worst 9 day start to the year ever. The omens aren't great with the rest of the year returning -0.74% when the market gets off to such a stuttering start. US (un)employment and banking problems once again dominated the headlines. Citi group announced it will split in two after announcing an $8.29 billion loss. At the same time, Bank of America posted its first loss in 17 years while receiving a $138 billion bailout.

Economists talk about the prospects of a V, U or L shaped recovery for the worlds various economies, reflecting the expected speed of any return to growth. The prospect of the US or UK following a Japanese style "lost" decade or L shaped recovery would have been laughed at just a couple of years ago, but the world is a very different place today. Economists have made various predictions that the recovery will begin in the fourth quarter of 2009, or first quarter of 2010, but perhaps what is scaring people the most is the growing realisation that nobody knows what is going to happen. Arguably, the banks still haven confessed all their subprime sins and until they do, rumours will continue to spread concerning capital requirements. As they are at the epicentre of the crisis, this uncertainty could continue to shake markets for a good part of 2009. The global recovery may turn out to be worse than most people expect, it may turn out to be better, but nothing makes an investor reach for the sell button more than the unknown.

It was never going to be a good week for the FTSE when its two main sectors; finance and energy led the selling. Global banking giant HSBC hit the headlines after a Morgan Stanley note warned that it might have to raise $30 bn and cut its dividend in half. Deutsche Bank added to the misery by announcing a $6.33 bn loss in the last quarter. They were forced to deny rumours that this was down to a rogue trader. Considering the size of the loss, one has to wonder whether it is worse that such a loss was generated through authorised channels.

The biggest market mover at the start of the week was Bernanke's speech, in which he outlined the need for further capital injections and guarantees for banks. Considering this came in the same week as BoA's bailout, one can only assume that he was right on the money. The notion of UK banks requiring further capital injections was highlighted recently by The Bank of England deputy governor Charlie Bean. Most UK financials have now reversed all of last week's gains, as traders speculate that this capital injection is moving closer to reality, along with the creation of a so called ‘bad bank' that would soak up toxic assets. Many analysts are now in agreement that something needs to be done, and although the treasury continues to deny such an act is on the cards, it may be a question of when, not if.

Last week it was announced that Apple talisman Steve Jobs would be taking a medical leave of absence. The announcement rattled the share price, but it did not collapse as many believe it could have done. The share price held above the $80 level last week, and there is a chance that it could continue to hold above this level if investors buy the story that there is more to Apple than Steve Jobs.

A No Touch trade predicting that Apple won't touch $77 over the next 30 days could return 126% of profit at is the world's leading Fixed Odds Financial Trading website. Fully licensed and regulated globally, handles around 18,000 trades a day, from over 130,000 registered clients. Over 15 million trades have been processed since inception in 2000. The multi-award winning allows traders to speculate on the movement of the worlds' major financial markets, up down or sideways without actually owning the market, stock or currency you are buying.

Mike Wright

Regent Markets (IOM) Limited
3rd Floor, 1-5 Church Street,
Douglas, Isle of Man IM1 2AG,
British Isles.

Phone: 448003762737

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