Wall Street hits 13-month low on Europe woes

NEW YORK Mon Oct 3, 2011 7:36pm EDT

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 23, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks slumped in heavy volume to a 13-month low on Monday as investors dumped bank shares on fears that Greece's worsening financial crisis could cause a large European lender to fail.

Investors pegged losses to the sharp fall in Franco-Belgian financial group Dexia, which fell 10 percent after a Moody's warning about its liquidity due to concerns about exposure to Greece.

Markets have feared European officials will be unable to prevent Greece's fiscal crisis from turning into a global banking crisis. Greece said it will miss its deficit targets this year and next, which could limit the country's ability to receive more aid.

"Most investors fear that markets in Europe are going to run well ahead of politicians that are not going to be able to get any kind of reasonable solution," said Jack de Gan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

U.S. banks have become a target for speculators. Morgan Stanley closed at its lowest since December 2008, and the cost to insure its debt has jumped as other banks hedge counterparty exposures and traders bet on the situation worsening.

The recession that wiped 12 years of gains off the S&P 500 was caused in part by a credit crisis.

"We are going to have a disorderly default in Greece and there could be another banking crisis in Europe as they are undercapitalized and loaded with (sovereign) debt," De Gan said.

Morgan Stanley has been the most volatile bank in recent weeks, with the cost to insure its debt rising to November 2008 levels, according to Markit data.

Morgan Stanley shares fell 7.6 percent to $12.47 and the S&P financial sector was down 4.5 percent.

The market's focus on Morgan Stanley stems from a perception about their reliance on short-term funding, said Harbor Advisory's De Gan. "They rely on the credit markets and that was the downfall of Lehman and other institutions three years ago," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 258.08 points, or 2.36 percent, to 10,655.30. The S&P 500 fell 32.19 points, or 2.85 percent, to 1,099.23. The Nasdaq Composite lost 79.57 points, or 3.29 percent, to 2,335.83.

The S&P 500 broke through a previously strong technical support level near 1,120 before hitting a 13-month intraday low just below 1,100.

The benchmark is also down 19.4 percent from its closing high this year, nearly entering a bear market, which is defined as a 20 percent decline from its recent high set on April 29.

A stronger-than-expected reading in a gauge of U.S. manufacturing briefly lifted Wall Street stocks, but global manufacturing shrank for the first time in over two years in September, reinforcing fears of another recession.

The revelations that Athens would miss its deficit targets for both this year and next despite harsh new austerity measures will be the focus of talks as euro zone finance ministers meet to discuss the next steps toward resolving the currency area's sovereign debt crisis.

Dexia called an emergency board meeting after concerns about its exposure to Greece and a Moody's warning about its liquidity position raised pressure on Belgium and France to act.

Shares of AMR Corp , parent of American Airlines, lost a third of their market value as analysts debated the prospects for a bankruptcy filing for the U.S. airline, which lags its industry peers.

More than 11 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, about 38 percent above the year's current daily average of 7.98 billion.

Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on both the NYSE and Nasdaq by a ratio of about 10 to 1.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Karen Brettell; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Comments (4)
FBreughel1 wrote:
Typical. FTSE, DAX down ? The Dow opens with a plus. Well, those who have been paying attention also knows what happens the rest of the day…this is not going to be a great week.

Oct 03, 2011 10:30am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Contagion is home-grown — not foreign.
Can the DOW be next, and how will it affect ill-tempered Americans already seriously ticked off with Wall Street bankers and investment houses?
The Toronto Stock Exchange, according to the pundits, entered a Bear Market earlier today, and many are suggesting the DOW is on the cusp.
If bad becomes worse and unemployment increases as retirement investments shrink in value, is the anti-Wall Street protest just the start of Americans asking for dramatic changes to what is still called corporate free enterprise? To paraphrase a famous political comment, “You betcha”.
We live in interesting times.

Oct 03, 2011 3:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Hey Rudy

USA will come out of this problem way earlier than Europe… Free corporate enterprise and our way elastic economy will not be impacted that much… but rigid socialistic European economies will have serious social economical troubles… last 30 years they were living a virtual dream over free money from Germany, France… (especially Greece) now somebody shouted “King is Naked”… European problem is way deeper than our mortgage crisis and we will come out of it in 2 years… maybe we can see more Europeans work 60 hrs per week… if you are not happy in this country move to Greece maybe you can find a job as government waiter in a government office for lifelong social benefits on paper…

Oct 03, 2011 5:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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