Sunday, May 27, 2012

U.S. Markets Fall Ahead of Long Weekend on Spanish Bank Troubles

U.S. markets fell on Friday on a relatively uneventful day before the long weekend. The S&P 500 fell 2.86 points or 0.22% to 1,317.82. The Dow dropped 74.92 points or 0.60% to 12,454.83. For the week, the S&P 500 ended higher, breaking the index's streak of consecutive declines at 3 weeks. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 1.7%, while the Dow rose 0.6%. The S&P 500 has fallen 5.7% since the beginning of May, but is still up 4.8% for 2012.

Spanish Bank Bankia Seeks Expanded Bailout

On Saturday, Spanish bank Bankia requested $19 billion euros of additional bailout funding from the Spanish government, which was twice as large as what the market expected. As a result, S&P downgraded Bankia and two other banks to a “junk” rating. On Thursday, the Spanish government had decided to completely nationalize Bankia by injecting $9 billion into the bank. However, that amount was determined to be inadequate by Saturday. In addition, the Spanish government injected $4.5 billion euros into Bankia in early May, which brings the entire bailout to a total of $23.5 billion euros.

EU Leaders Meet But Produce No Results

On Tuesday, EU leaders began to meet for a summit in Brussels to resolve the euro zone debt crisis. French President Hollande pushed for the issuance of Eurobonds, which Germany resisted. The market doubted that the meeting would produce any significant results. In addition, Reuters reported that EU officials were instructing EU member nations in preparing for Greece to exit the euro zone. As a result, the Dow fell around 160 points in early trading on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the euro fell to its 21-month low of US$1.2615. By Friday, Germany and France were unable to come to an agreement on Eurobonds, and simply suggested 3 measures to help economic growth.

Facebook Shares Tumble In Second Week of Trading

On Monday, Facebook shares tumbled 11% after Friday's disappointing IPO. The shares closed down $4.20 at $34.03. By the end of the week, FB closed at $31.91, after losing 3.4% on Friday. It hit a intraday low of $30.94 on Tuesday.

Looking Ahead to Next Week

With elections in Greece to be held on June 17th, it is likely the situation in the country has stabilized until then. While the possibility of Greece exiting the euro zone will provide a negative overhang for stocks, its effect could be small until the election occurs. Meanwhile, most of the euro zone concerns will be focused on Spain, as a result of the Bankia bailout. Investors will be watching to see whether Spain's other banks also require bailouts.

Next week, investors will be watching a long list of economic data to be released in the U.S. Consumer confidence, GDP and May non-farm payrolls reports will be released. Better-than-expected economic data from the U.S. could send markets higher next week, if few negative news emerge from the euro zone.

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