saudi arabia

Photo: ap

Now we’re getting some real selling.But first, the scoreboard:

Dow: -225.95
NASDAQ: -49.55
S&P 500: -24.73

And now the top stories:

  • Let’s quickly dispense with Libya. Qaddafi continued to bombard his opponents, taking back some key areas, and setting oil infrastructure on fire. The situation continues to get worse, perhaps to the point where investors are tired of it.
  • In terms of economic news, the big shock came out of China, which reported a surprisingly deep trade deficit for February. That rattled global markets. All of Asia got hit. Australia had a rough day.
  • In Europe, the wheels continue to come off. Equities got hit hard, and Moody’s downgraded Spain. Friday is a huge day for Euro politics. Expect a lot of interesting quotes from the chefs in the Eurozone kitchen.
  • Between the Moody’s downgrade and the Chinese economic data, things were looking ugly from the earliest hours of the day.
  • At 8:30 we got a double-whammy of disappointing news. The trade deficit for January came in wider than expected, which will drag down GDP. Initial claims data was a bit worse than expectations, although the weekly number was still below 400k, so it was not really that bad.
  • On the corporate front, things were pretty quiet. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had an incredibly strong day, thanks to signing a deal with Starbucks. Even Starbucks rallied on the news. In fact, one of the ironies of the day was that while stocks tanked left and right, some seemingly-tired momentum stocks like Green Mountain, Netflix, and OpenTable had big runs. Go figure. Shorting is tough.
  • Speaking of big name momentum stocks. Apple releases the iPad 2 on Friday.
  • Going back to the geopolitical front for a few moments, there were some unhelpful comments from Merkel, who made noises about Greek asset sales, and Irish tax hikes as conditions for bailouts. Yes, all that’s apparently back on the table.
  • After coming back a bit in the early afternoon, what really got the market selling off was news that Saudi police had fired (rubber) bullets at protesters. In recent days, the market has calmed down on Saudi Arabia. Now it’s back, and tensions are high for the entire world on Friday.
  • That Saudi news initially spiked oil, but in what’s perhaps a very bearish sign, it wasn’t able to hold much of its gains, and instead crude got caught up in the deflationary downdraft that swept up everything else. Get ready for tomorrow folks!
  • And since everyone’s focused on it, click here for 13 fascinating charts about oil >

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