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Reasons & Rhymes

So what caused yesterday's slump in most markets? I love it when everyone is asking the same question, and nobody seems to have answer. Its like debating how we know if there is a God for sure. The usual market weakness reasons would not be sufficient to explain the shareper than usual daily losses.

Bloomberg has this to say: "Asian stocks fell, dragging a benchmark regional index lower for a third day this week, on concern U.S. unemployment and efforts by emerging countries to tame inflation will hamper a global economic recovery."

Hmmm, ok Bloomberg, you need to do better than that.The FBM KLCI fell 2.09% or 32.08 points to 1,503.99, the steepest fall since it lost 2.11% on Nov 6, 2008. YTD, the FBM KLCI lost 0.98%. Losers thumped gainers by 750 to 160, while 223 counters traded unchanged. Volume was 2.23 billion shares valued at RM3.13 billion.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 1.97% to 22,708.62, Taiwan’s Taiex lost 1.89% to 8,836.56, South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.81% to 2,008.50 and Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 1.5% to 3,103.39. However, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.59% to 2,818.16 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.20% to 4,914.40

Then we go searching for reasons to attach to the picture, some said its the Javanese burning of 3 churches. Hmmm, read closer, no one died, it was an orchestrated thing by a small minority extremist group. Not sufficient reason.

Then there are those who cited China's recent rate raises. Old story man, even Chiuna was the sore thumb yesterday gaining substantially. Fears of other Asian central bankers doing likewise, well, its a maybe but WE ARE COMING from such a low base rate, surely any rate hikes are not sufficient to turn people off - sounds logical but underwhelming.

Then there are the experts who say foreign funds are moving out in droves. Pleeassee la people, institutions do not act as one. Its not like they collude at a monthly meeting and say lets get the hell out on these 3 days. We tend to blame foreign funds when markets are down, in reality, there are always buyers and sellers both local and foreign. There are good and bad fund managers, good and bad investors, local or foreign - its too simplistic to attribute the day's weakness or strength to just one group of people. Its bigger than all of us.

We try to make it "small" by being able to explain things away, but we are belittling the market's predictability and in many ways, the market has a mind of its own which is difficult to fathom if you look at it on a day to day basis.

The OZ markets closed higher albeit slightly, hence the markets really started to turn late. China was not affected and that tells a tale. Its program selling, especially weakness seen in indexed stocks as they were sufficient liquidity, index related.

Why trigger the program selling, well if you receive some bad news during Asian time zone but the bad news is for US companies, which you think is sufficiently bad to turn sentiment southwards, the easiest is to sell futures of any markets stock indices. That in turn triggers sell programs further in selling down stocks as the disparity in futures would cause these programs to buy futures and sell stocks to cover.

So, what's the bad news? Cisco’s shares declined 10%-12% in premarket trading after the network-equipment maker late Wednesday warned of declining public spending and posted weaker quarterly margins. Cisco is a big enough barometer to pull down other big techies for sure. So, it was a bet, which I think is pretty shallow. It may not just be Cisco but an aggregation of factors, but once program sells hit the markets, they tend to exaggerate the downside as "no one seems to know the real reasons, so they sell first ask questions later".

Believe you me, I think the US markets will be able to hold onto its sensibilities and we should see a steadier market tomorrow.

One can easily concoct a bad scenario for the same event or paint a good one, its just shifting the reasoning to suit where the markets are headed. For example, US jobs figure is still bad which is bad if you are looking from a recovery angle, but good as it will maintain low rates there much longer, thus making stocks more attractive.


Subba Rao said…
Very Interesting Dali...:)

For a moment there I thought people were testing their new year luck with T+3.. :)
Hawk said…
"That in turn triggers sell programs further in selling down stocks as the disparity in futures would cause these programs to buy futures and sell stocks to cover."

Dear Dali, the above except was taken from you latest posting. could you elaborate a little?

clk said…
Ah So!....the proverbial unanswered question of Cause & Effect. As usual, its easy to just find any effect and says that the cause of it, which is usually coincidence.

Nowadays when I see those analyst on TV making comments, I just laugh at them for making fools of themselves.
Loo said…
In news report on the market, we often read about reasons given by so-called 'analysts' claiming all sorts of ridiculous comments but their names are never revealed. Early this week, I read a news report an analyst stating that the KLCI is all set to break 1550! Their names should be revealed so that we know who these fools really are.

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