Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Today's Major Market Move: Russian Stock Market Drops 4.5% in Today's Session

Today was one of those universal risk-off days that we haven't seen in awhile. Here are some numbers from the different asset classes: 23 out of 29 commodities declined (leading decliner was Coffee down 4.3%), 105 out 120 currencies were flat or weaker against the dollar (currencies most weakened were the Hungarian Forint and the Polish Zloty at 1.5%) and 73 out of 92 benchmark equity indexes were flat or down. Europe was hit particularly hard with many European markets down over 3% and the worst hit of all, where the decline in crude was also factored in, was Russia which dropped 4.5%. Here's the top 15 worst performers from today's session:

Click here to go to the live table.
The global sell off appears to have been precipitated by at least two factors:
  1. The downward revision of GDP growth estimates to 7.5 which is below the minimum target of 8 that Beijing  has set.
  2. Heightened uncertainty surrounding the Greek debt writedown agreement with private creditors.
Here's some more color from the NY Times regarding China's GDP announcement:
The Chinese economy, after nearly three decades of rapid, almost uninterrupted growth, seems to be settling down to a still strong but less blistering pace. But some sectors are struggling, including exports and luxury residential real estate construction.

Premier Wen said in his annual report to the National People’s Congress on Monday morning in Beijing that the government had scaled its economic growth target back to 7.5 percent this year, down from the 8 percent that Beijing has set as a minimum growth target in recent years. If growth does come in at only 7.5 percent, it will be the slowest pace in 22 years.
As of late last year the IMF had the growth estimate for China in 2012 at close to 11% so this has been a rather remarkable shift. Throw in the uncertainty surrounding China's official numbers that are released and you wouldn't be able to fault someone for thinking that the decline may be even steeper than reported. Here's a comparison chart of Chinese GDP growth against Chinese equity indexes:

Click here to go to the live chart.

Since the beginning of 2011, equity indexes stalled while GDP growth continued along a steady slope. From today's news it appears now that the GDP numbers may now trend down in the direction of where the equities are. It's also interesting to note that the Shanghai SE Composite, which is a broad based benchmark index like the S&P 500, is essentially flat going back to 2007.

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