Investors Suffer Another Rollercoaster Day

Investors struggled through a volatile day on the world's financial markets Thursday. In New York, stocks were down nearly 3 percent at one stage before recovering, only to fall sharply near the end of the trading session. Asian and European markets also swooned.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

It's been a crazy day in the financial markets. Before trading began in New York, stocks around the world had fallen, many of them sharply. But Wall Street kept investors watching and wondering where the day was going. The main stock index was down 350 points, then back up 200 points, then down 100, and then it went all the way up into positive territory. Finally, stocks closed almost where they started - 15 points lower, though.

NPR's Adam Davidson rode along on today's financial rollercoaster, and he has this report.

ADAM DAVIDSON: Ed Cofrancesco knew today was going to be rough. He runs International Assets Advisory. And last night, he started watching stock markets open around the globe.

Mr. ED COFRANCESCO (President, International Assets Advisory): New Zealand stock opens before Australia. Then, Australia opens. Everyone then kind of sits around and waits to see what's going to happen in Japan.

DAVIDSON: And what happened was rough to see, Cofrancesco says. Australia and Japan's key indices both lost around two percents of their value. South Korea lost seven percent. Indonesia was practically in freefall, 15 percent down.

Mr. COFRANCESCO: Certainly people care, but markets like that - markets like Indonesia - don't lead the way.

DAVIDSON: What leads the way is Europe. And that's why Cofrancesco woke up at 2 in the morning, Miami time.

Mr. COFRANCESCO: And then you see Europe sell off, if you happen to be up. And I caught the open of Europe before I went back to sleep. It's, you know, to quote Bette Davis from that movie from the '40s, you know, buckle your seatbelts, we're in for a bumpy ride.

DAVIDSON: Belgium, France and Germany all lost around three percent. London was down four, which set things up for a very rough start in New York.

Mr. BOB NUNN (Chief Operating Officer, Cohen Specialists): You know, the markets are trading on nervousness and sentiment right now more than anything. Fundamentals are certainly just thrown out the window for the time being.

DAVIDSON: That's Bob Nunn, a stock trader with Cohen Specialists.

Speaking near the bottom of today's market, the Dow Jones fell a dramatic 350 points. The fundamental economic picture is still sound, Nunn says. People were panicking because they don't know the full extent of the subprime mortgage crisis. They're afraid more companies will go bankrupt. But now, that panic has spread irrationally throughout global markets.

But even though he believes the economy is sound, Nunn says drops like that hurt.

Mr. NUNN: It's a psychological pain, not like the physical pain you experience at football, but it's like a football coach telling you, you need to play through the pain. We need to continue to trade through that psychological pain and try and keep a better grasp on the fundamentals.

DAVIDSON: Then, when things were at their worst, the market started pulling up and up.

Ed Cofrancesco.

Mr. COFRANCESCO: It's almost like somebody was taking a breather. It's almost like looking at a person and it's like, I got a little breather. All right. I'm going to regain my strength.

DAVIDSON: Then, after the breather, a fall again.

Cofrancesco says it reminded him of a patient struggling in a hospital bed.

Mr. CONFRANCESCO: And then, all of the sudden, no, you know what? That was a short-lived rally, short-lived breather. Now, they're starting, you know, their vital signs are going even worse now.

DAVIDSON: Until, shockingly, they weren't. After one fall, then a climb upwards, then another fall, the stock market climbed once again, even peeking up into positive territory for a few moments before falling, but only just to close down ever so slightly.

Mr. JOHN WILSON (Chief Technical Strategist, Morgan Keegan): What was that?

DAVIDSON: John Wilson is chief technical strategist for Morgan Keegan in Memphis.

Mr. WILSON: Huge swing, I mean, 900 points from yesterday's high to today's low and back - a big swing.

DAVIDSON: Nobody would predict how the market will perform tomorrow.

Adam Davidson, NPR News, New York.

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