Wall Street Braced for Volatile Session

US stocks were mixed in volatile trade on Thursday as traders weighed some relatively upbeat corporate earnings with an unexpectedly big jump in unemployment benefit data.

By 11 a.m. in New York the S&P 500 hovered around the gain line, up 1.73 per cent at 912.26 having earlier risen and fallen as much as 1.5 per cent. The Dow Jones Composite Index was 2.04 per cent higher at 8,692.68, the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.75 per cent at 1,627.87.

The S&P 500 closed at the lowest level since April 2003 yesterday on concern a deepening global economic slump will damp profits. The Labor Department today reported a bigger-than- forecast increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended Oct. 18, adding to evidence the economy is slowing. The benchmark index for U.S. equities has declined 39 percent this year, poised for its worst annual performance since 1931.

Canadian stocks gained for the first time in three days, led by energy producers, after EnCana Corp. and reported earnings that beat analysts' estimates. The Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite Index rose 169.55, or 1.84 percent at 10:51 a.m. in Toronto after dropping 5.7 percent yesterday.

Brazilian stocks fell for a third day, led by commodity producers and retailers, as metal prices slid and Deutsche Bank AG cut its profit estimates for merchants on the prospect of a weakening currency and slowing economy. The Bovespa index lost 4.2 percent to 33,602.24 at 9:29 a.m. New York time.

U.K. stocks failed to hold overall gains on Thursday, as worries about the extent and depth of the likely world recession intensified, hitting mining stocks the hardest. After a volatile session the FTSE 100 fell 12.49 points a decline of 0.31 per cent, coming after losses of 189 points on Wednesday.

German stocks declined for a third day on concern the cooling economy is curbing profits, with Metro AG slumping the most in at least 12 years after Societe Generale SA downgraded the country's largest retailer. The benchmark DAX Index declined 127.35, or 2.79 percent.

Japan stocks tumbled a second day as the slowing global economy dragged on export growth, and the yen jumped to a six-year high against the euro. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average sank 213.71, or 2.5 percent, to close at 8,460.98 in Tokyo.

Australian stocks fell after commodity prices tumbled to a four-year low, led by declines in oil, copper and grains, on increased speculation a global economic slowdown will reduce demand for raw materials. The S&P/ASX 200 Index slid 181.70 points, or 4.4 percent, to 3,974.40 at the close in Sydney, extending yesterday's 3.4 percent loss.

China's benchmark stock index rose for the first time in three days, led by developers after the government announced measures to bolster the property market. The CSI 300 Index, which tracks yuan-denominated stocks traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen, added 1.46, or 0.1 percent, in the last 15 minutes of trading to 1,834.78 at the close.

Russian stocks tumbled, erasing gains for this week, led by OAO Sberbank after the country's debt risk soared and its reserves fell for a third straight week. The ruble-denominated Micex Index sank 5.7 percent to 592.63 at 3 p.m. in Moscow, the lowest since May 2005, after climbing to a close of 652.51 on Oct. 21.


Tradingeconomics.com, Bloomberg
10/23/2008 8:05:41 AM