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Is the stock slump over?
 

W

hat happened
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 13,000 yesterday for the first time in four months, topping an 11 percent stock market rally over the past few weeks. After months of bad economic news, tightening credit, rising unemployment, and falling stocks, many Wall Street analysts say they believe the worst is over. “There has been a huge change of sentiment in all of the markets, a lot of the fear has been gone,” said investment strategist William Knapp at MainStay Investments, a division of New York Life. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
“Spring has sprung on Wall Street,” said Igor Greenwald in SmartMoney.com. Financial earnings haven’t had any nasty surprises, and the raft of bad-sounding headlines have obscured “a full month of a stealth bull run.” Let the “dupes” on Main Street worry “about mortgages and gas and jobs.” People in “the rest of the world” are “still snapping up cars and consumer goods at a feel-good pace.”

Sure, the market is “back in rally mode,” said Douglas A. McIntyre in the blog 24/7 Wall St., but it’s almost certainly a “sucker’s rally.” Banks are raising huge amounts of capital and “hitting the Fed discount window like stick-up men,” so you know they think there are “more bad quarters” ahead. Oil trading at $114 may look good to “saps” on Wall Street, but “on the unemployment lines and at gas stations and bank branches they know the truth better.”

The Bank of England, at least, thinks the global “credit crunch is over,” said Philip Aldrick in the London Telegraph. The economy may be “in for a rough ride over the next couple of years,” the central bank says, but financial institutions have written down a very conservative $180 billion, and they’ll be able to start “writing back their provisions as profits” soon. But it is more likely that we are merely at end of the beginning of the credit mess, not the beginning of the end.
 

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