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  • Wall Street Boosted by FOMC Minutes - 23 August 2012
  • Wall Street responded positively on Wednesday to minutes from the July 31-August 1 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee that indicated the central bank may be prepared to launch another round of monetary stimulus measures to speed up the slow recovery of the US economy. Stocks had been lower for most of Wednesday's session in response to Greece calling for extended time to meet deficit cut targets as it meets this week with officials of the European Union this week, as well as Japan's weak export statistics. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,172.76 being down 30.82, an improvement on its decline of 83 points earlier in the session. The Nasdaq composite index added 6.41 points to end at 3,073.67, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which had spent most of the day down, ended with a gain of 0.32 point at 1,413.49.

  • High-Speed Trading Back in the Spotlight - 9 August 2012
  • In days gone by, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange was crowded with market-makers and other specialists trading, creating a hive of activity and a buzz of excitement. Technology has replaced this scenario with computers, and as high-speed trading continues to move ahead, fortunes can be made or lost in the blink of an eye. While being fairly low profile in the public eye, Knight Capital Group is a major market-maker for the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ stocks, making extensive use of technology programmed to place buy or sell orders based on real-time market activity. Wednesday 1 August saw Knight Capital Group lose $440 million in the space of 30 minutes due to a technical glitch, once again bringing the pros and cons of high-speed trading into the spotlight and prompting a review of past problems caused by this hi-tech trend, such as the 'flash crash' of 2010 and the Facebook IPO debacle.

  • Call for Break-Up of Big Banks - 26 July 2012
  • While Sandy Weill's new take on big banking is a striking U-turn from his previous position, analysts point out that his acknowledgement that scrapping the Glass-Steagull separation of investment and commercial banking was a mistake, simply confirms what markets currently think. As one of the architects of the 1998 Citicorp and Travelers Group merger - essentially creating a financial supermarket to meet all banking needs - by the year 2002 Weill featured in Elliot Spitzer's investigation into Wall Street which garnered the New York State attorney general the nick-name 'Sheriff of Wall Street'. Weill also featured on Time Magazine's list of '25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis' as the Wall Street player who decided that banks should "be all things to all customers", creating Citigroup to fulfill his vision.

  • Benchmark Interest Rate Under Scrutiny - 20 July 2012
  • While the recent Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal, resulting in a record £290-million fine being imposed on Barclays Plc and the ousting of CEO Robert Diamond, was initially viewed as a revelation, analysts have pointed out that concerns about possible interest rate manipulation were being voiced by a number of parties back in the first quarter of 2008. In March of that year the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) signaled that the benchmark for worldwide short term interest rates was being misstated. In April Citigroup analysts raised similar concerns, and the following month a strategist in Barclay’s employ made it known that the numbers being reported by banks was inaccurate, and yet, it appears that no action was taken at the time.

  • Fed Minutes, China Slowdown, Europe Crisis Impact on Wall Street - 12 July 2012
  • Wall Street responded to the Federal Reserve minutes released on Wednesday afternoon with a significant slump, managing to recover to some extent and ending the day with only slight losses. Among other issues, the Federal Reserve identified a number of threats to the recovery of the US economy, with the slowdown in China and an upcoming budget crunch in Washington being cited as two examples. Most notable is that the Fed gave no indication of new strategies for stimulating the economy, as investors were hoping they would. The Dow responded to the release of the Fed's minutes at 2pm by dropping 118 points as investors digested the news, managing a recovery in the hour before the closing bell. The Dow ended the day 48.59 points down, the Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 0.02 of a point and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 14.35 points – the fifth consecutive day stocks have closed lower on Wall Street.

  • End of IPO 'Quiet Period' Reveals Facebook's Vulnerable Status - 28 June 2012
  • As the Facebook IPO 'quiet period' ended, only eight of the seventeen brokerages to issue reports recommended buying Facebook shares, with eight brokerages giving neutral ratings, and one issuing a 'sell' rating. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan were among those recommending that investors should buy Facebook shares, but with shares closing at US$ 32.23 on Nasdaq, compared with their IPO price of USS$ 38, it's unlikely that investors will be clamoring to buy. Reasons for caution, as noted by the reports, include Facebook's uncertain business model, doubts about the company's strength, margin pressures and the effect the transition to mobile technology will have on the advertising revenue of the social media company.

  • Wall Street Reform Remains in Spotlight - 14 June 2012
  • In a published interview ahead of JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday, outspoken advocate for Wall Street reform and candidate for the Massachusetts Senate, Elizabeth Warren, gave her viewpoint on a number of issues on Wall Street, that directly or indirectly impact Main Street America. Warren continues to push for the strengthening of financial reform, and has voiced her concern that Congress and financial regulators may let the opportunity for using JPMorgan's multibillion-dollar trading loss as a motivating factor for tightening Wall Street regulations pass them by.

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