Earthquake Rattles Americans Not Stocks

While Americans were rattled by today’s earthquake, stocks were not. The Dow closed higher by 3%. While we’ve come to expect earthquakes on Wall Street, we’ve not experienced one as literally as we did Tuesday. The earth shook right under our feet, as a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Mineral, VA. The vibrations were felt as far as Toronto, and here in New York City buildings were evacuated and emergency preparations were initiated. It’s amazing how well guarded New Yorkers are now, and how quickly they react. You will no longer find people staying behind in buildings should security advisors instruct them to, like what occurred at the World Trade Center. We move quickly now and ask questions later.

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Earthquake Rattles Americans Not Stocks

This particular earthquake was especially troubling, because it followed a 5.3 magnitude earthquake in Colorado just hours earlier. Meanwhile, FEMA chose to use a New Madrid earthquake scenario as its practice disaster this year. New Madrid hasn’t blown in a major way for 200 years, but insiders tell yours truly, FEMA people actually expect it to happen sometime relatively soon. That would be the kind of event noticed across much of the nation, and if Edgar Cayce proves true, across the entire nation. There’s already been an aftershock in Mineral, Virginia, but we’re more concerned about New Madrid now than anything else. And there is a fault line that runs through town here, as if we didn’t have enough to worry about.

Perhaps God was upset that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was cleared of rape charges, or maybe the devil is angry that his boy Qaddafi is being unseated in Libya. As far as the day’s economic and other stock market news flow went…

New Home Sales were reported at a slower pace for the month of July, down to 298K, from June’s 300K pace. June was also revised lower from 312K, which added insult to injury today for housing stocks. Economists expected the annual run rate to meet 313K, and so surprise and disappointment dictated industry trade. We’ve now seen both New Home Sales and Existing Home Sales disappoint in July, with the existing home sales run rate of 4.67 million short of both consensus and the prior year pace.

Retail same-store sales data from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reached the wire this morning. The data reported for the week ending August 20 showed sales fell by 1.0% against the just prior period. This followed last week’s 1.5% decline. On a year-over-year basis, sales increased 3.0%, but that was a slower pace than the week ago period (3.5%). Redbook had the year-over-year sales growth rate up to 3.6% this week. What we’re seeing here is a clear freezing of consumer spending due to uncertainty regarding the economy and securities markets. This is tangible decline in consumer spending, especially when taking inflation into account; sales comparisons would be negative on a real basis.

It’s interesting that this earthquake came the same day as the Richmond Federal Reserve release of its regional business index, a similar measure to the Empire State Survey and the Philly Fed Survey. You’ll recall that the Philadelphia region showed ugly last week, as its index fell deeply into negative territory. Richmond’s Central Atlantic manufacturing survey produced reading of -10, down from negative 1 previously.

WTI Crude futures rose 1.2% to $85.44, as Brent Crude futures reached $109.70. Natural Gas futures jumped 2.7%, to $3.993 per MMBtu. Gold had an off day, dropping 1.6%, to $1,861.30 per troy ounce. Silver futures fell 3.3%, to $41.93 per troy ounce. The ICE Dollar Index was about unchanged at 74.074

The day’s most active stocks included:



Kent Fin’l (Nasdaq: KENT)

USA Truck (Nasdaq: USAK)

Ampio Pharma (Nasdaq: AMPE)

Lizhan Environmental (Nasdaq: LZEN)

Boston Private Fin’l (NasdaqGS: BPFHW)

China Ceramics (Nasdaq: CCCLU)

Pharmerica (NYSE: PMC)

First Bancorp Pfd. (NYSE: FBP-PC)

Granite City Food & Brew (Nasdaq: GCFB)

Temple-Inland (NYSE: TIN)

Rentrak (Nasdaq: RENT)

Community Fin’l (Nasdaq: CFFC)

Anthera Pharma (Nasdaq: ANTH)

RealPage (NasdaqGS: RP)

Perfumania (Nasdaq: PERF)

Cytori Therapeutics (NasdaqGM: CYTXW)

CVD Equipment (NasdaqCM: CVV)

Ku6 Media (Nasdaq: KUTV)

Ivanhoe Mines (NYSE: IVN)

Fidelity Bancorp (Nasdaq: FSBI)

Deltek (Nasdaq: PROJ)

Frozen Food Express (Nasdaq: FFEX)

The First Bancshares (Nasdaq: FBMS)

Skystar Biopharmaceutical (Nasdaq: SKBI)

DynaVox (Nasdaq: DVOX)

Le Gaga (Nasdaq: GAGA)

Indentive Group (Nasdaq: INVE)

Orsus Xelent (AMEX: ORS)

Rosetta Genomics (Nasdaq: ROSG)

United Community Fin’l (Nasdaq: UCFC)

Universal Truckload (Nasdaq: UACL)

Royal Bancshares PA (NasdaqGM: RBPAA)

Epoch Holding (Nasdaq: EPHC)

Aehr Test Systems (Nasdaq: AEHR)

Owens Corning Wts. (NYSE: OC-WTB)

Dataram (Nasdaq: DRAM)

Vonage (NYSE: VG)

Motricity (Nasdaq: MOTR)

Eagle Rock Energy (NasdaqGS: EROCW)

American Independence (Nasdaq: AMIC)

Northeast Bancorp (NasdaqGS: NBN)

Trailer Bridge (Nasdaq: TRBR)

Gleacher (Nasdaq: GLCH)

American Learning (Nasdaq: ALRN)

Ellie Mae (Nasdaq: ELLI)

SGOCO (Nasdaq: SGOC)

The day’s EPS wire highlighted news from Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), H.J. Heinz (NYSE: HNZ), Aspen Technology (Nasdaq: AZPN), Avago Technologies (Nasdaq: AVGO), China Nepstar Chain Drugstore (NYSE: NPD), American Woodmark (Nasdaq: AMWD), Astro Med (Nasdaq: A LOT), Baldwin Technology (AMEX: BLD), Books A Million (Nasdaq: BAMM), Corinthian Colleges (Nasdaq: COCO), Daktronics (Nasdaq: DAKT), Dycom Industries (NYSE: DY), Globe Specialty Metals (Nasdaq: GSM), Gushan Environmental (NYSE: GU), Key Tronic (Nasdaq: KTCC), Ku6 Media (Nasdaq: KUTV), La Z Boy (NYSE: LZB), Melco Crown Entertainment (Nasdaq: MPEL), Pacific Sunwear (Nasdaq: PSUN), Shanda Games (Nasdaq: GAME), Tangoe (Nasdaq: TNGO), Hain Celestial Group (Nasdaq: HAIN), Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL), Urologic (Nasdaq: ULGX) and Williams Sonoma (NYSE: WSM).

Please see our disclosures at the Wall Street Greek website and author bio pages found there. This article and website in no way offers or represents financial or investment advice. Information is provided for entertainment purposes only.

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