One of the funny things about Wall Street and the stock market is that dozens of well-intentioned analysts could be screaming about ‘overreactions’ and ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’, but once momentum picks up on negative thinking, it’s hard to stop it.
Many investors gauge the health of the economy on the unemployment percentage in the country. Today that percentage jumped from 5.1 to 5.5, a 22-year high. Investors took this as a sign the economy was weakening and recession symptoms would continue. As a manifestation of that collective fear, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 365 points by the end of the day. Investors wanted out.
According to an article from CNBC, contrary to what investors feared about the economy weakening,
many economists said the rise in unemployment was attributable mostly to more unemployed people trying to get back in the jobs market and college and high school students looking for summer work.
They really should keep the ‘High School Kid Saving Up For New iPods’ employment rate as a separate figure from the ‘Dad Got Fired And We’re Losing The House’ employment rate. Then these kind of mix-ups probably wouldn’t happen.
But there was a whole separate story that freaked a lot of people out today. Oil.
Crude oil prices jumped up past $138 a barrel, after sitting at monthly-lows only a few days ago (An $11 jump in one day). The sudden jump in oil prices is largely being reported as ‘speculator driven’, meaning these are market games meant to drive prices and make profits from trading oil. Speculator driven sell-offs or run-ups usually don’t sustain those prices.
However, there is a report circulating that gives legitimacy to the claim that we will soon see $150 barrels of oil. If that ‘prophesy’ comes true, expect to see significantly higher gas prices. $6 a gallon as the norm maybe?
This all came as quite a surprise to many on the Street because Thursday was such a fun-loving happy day. Yesterday’s market scored its biggest single day gain in almost 2 months. I heard one commenter on CNBC likening it to “when someone is about to commit suicide, they usually act happier than normal.”
Probably in poor taste to make that kind of comparison, but gets the point across I guess.
What will next week bring?
CNBC: Stock Selloff Offers Good Chance To See Bargains, June 6, 2008
CNN Money: Dow Tumbles 395 Points On Oil Spike, June 6, 2008