Wall Street sinks on fiscal cliff fears

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The Dow Jones industrial lost more than 300 points in a sell-off on Wednesday one day after the reelection of president Obama. The major stock indexes were down over 2 percent in the wake of the US presidential elections as investors focus shifted to the looming “fiscal cliff” and the troubles with the Euro zone. The American indexes closed at their lowest levels since early August. The stock exchanges in Europe had experienced similar steep falls earlier on Wednesday with the debt crisis and new austerity measures in Greece back on the top of the agenda. Asian stocks also tumbled as US fiscal cliff looms.
Financial stocks and energy shares, two sectors that could face increased regulation after Barack Obama’s re-election, were hardest hit. Oil prices which started the day on a positive note fell 4 percent. Brent crude is trading at 107.80 and New York crude is back below USD 85 a barrel. After the elections considered as a major source of market uncertainty are finished, focus has turned to the “fiscal cliff”. Investors worry that if Democrats and Republicans are not able to agree on spending cuts and tax increases amounting to USD 600 billion, the overall economy will seriously suffer and derail the economic recovery.
The fall in the stock markets yesterday were spurred by comments from the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, stressing that also Germany started to feel the impact of the financial crisis. A corresponding report from the European Commission concluded that there barely would be any growth in the Euro zone next year. The reports dashed any hopes for short term improvement. Some analysts, however, saw the slide in stocks as a buying opportunity arguing that Europe’s troubles already were priced into markets. The Euro which made a strong rebound in the morning yesterday by bouncing back into the last weeks trading range between 1.28 and 1.30 versus dollar plunged hundred points and continues down in early Asian trade at 1.2750. Japanese yen is strengthened against the green back at 79,85. Precious metals have fluctuated heavily during the start of the week. After recovering from the low 1680 last week, Gold jumped to 1725 after the outcome of the elections, fell down to 1708 and is now trading at 1715.
In Athens Greek police fired teargas and water cannon at protesters hurling petrol bombs outside parliament in one of the biggest rallies in months against new austerity measures necessary to release bail-out funding from the International Monetary Fund, EU and the European Central Bank. Parliament approved the austerity measures by a razor thin margin in a heated debate into Thursday morning. The measures will make it easier to hire and fire workers. The junior ruling partner, the Democratic left, abstained, but New Democracy, the part of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, and its Socialist Pasok allies were able to muster 153 out of 300 votes. 150 were necessary to secure the approval of spending cuts, tax hikes and weakening of labor’s rights.
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