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Thursday May 20, 2010 - 19:22:24 GMT
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U.S. Stock Markets Plunge as Investors Seek Clarity from Regulators

U.S. equity markets are trading sharply lower at the mid-session as large investors have been dumping positions due to the lack of clarity from financial market regulators in Europe and the U.S.

Technically, all three major stock markets seem to be getting drawn to the spike bottoms put in during the first week in May. The low target price in the June E-mini S&P 500 is 1056.00. The June E-mini NASDAQ’s target is 1730.25 and the June E-mini Dow has a downside objective of 9840.

The lack of clarity regarding proposed regulatory legislation and the surprise curbing of short sales by Germany is making investors nervous. Throughout the entire Greek debt crisis, investors have been looking for clarity and conviction from the European Union. Each time the EU has made a proposal, they have failed to explain to investors the logic behind the move. This week’s move by Germany to forbid the shorting of bank stocks is a good example of what is triggering the fear in the market today.

Institutions are confused by the action in Germany because the regulators have basically changed the rules of the game. Institutions are worried that the proposed changes in U.S. regulations are going to make it more difficult to protect risky positions in equity markets. What this means is large investors are unsure how they are going to hedge their exposure in the markets and instead have chosen to pare back positions to reduce the possibility of large losses. Without knowing what the regulators are going to allow them to do, it doesn’t make sense to take on added risk so liquidation seems to be the only viable option.

In addition to confusion over regulatory issues, investors are blowing out of risky commodity-linked currencies because they feel the Euro Zone debt problems are going to derail the global economic recovery. This means the real possibility of a global double-dip recession.

Hedge funds and large investors continue to divest out of the commodity-linked Australian and New Zealand Dollars. Traders feel that the spread of Euro Zone debt woes will curtail the global recovery and lead to a drop in demand for raw materials.

Falling crude oil is triggering a huge break in the June Canadian Dollar. This morning’s surge has put this market in a position to take out the recent bottom on the daily chart at .9293. This is a minor point on the long-term chart. A drive through the February 2010 bottom at .9271 is likely to trigger more weakness which will threaten the structure of the bull market in the Canadian Dollar.

Flight-to-safety buying is driving June Treasury Bonds sharply higher. This morning’s trading action took out the recent high at 124’16. Upside momentum seems to be indicating that another surge is likely. The move in the T-Bonds is more reactionary than speculative with investors taking their cues from the falling equity markets.
June Crude Oil is trading sharply lower on its expiration day. The price action seems to be indicating that no one wants to own crude oil. Liquidation of risky assets is one reason for the weakness. Traders have been treating crude oil as a hedge against the Dollar. Now that the U.S. Dollar is clearly on a path to move higher, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to hold on to long crude oil positions.

Fundamentally, a slow down in the global economy is likely to lead to a drop in demand for energy products. This will no doubt help drive up oil inventories. The break through the February bottom at 72.43 by the September contract indicates that more downside pressure can be expected.

June Gold is trading lower, but downside momentum is slowing. This means that gold is nearing a value area which may be attractive to buyers. The charts indicate that a 50% level at $1167.90 is likely to be tested. Don’t be surprised if fresh buyers show up to trigger a technical bounce.


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