Why Midafternoon Brings Out the Bears

Wall Street is facing one of its worst bear markets since World War II
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2008 12:50 PM CDT
Why Midafternoon Brings Out the Bears
Tthe trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange. Traders have begun to expect a 3pm lurch in the market, up or down, every day.   (AP Photo/David Karp)

An increasingly familiar Wall Street phenomenon—a three-digit swing in the Dow, usually down, in the final hour of trading—is a direct result of population growth in one species: bears. Margin calls are forcing panicked sell-offs, it's true, but the situation is more complicated than that, experts tell the New York Times.

A major contributor to the gloomy mood is hedge funds, which staggered under the short-selling ban and have continued to struggle as investors jump ship in droves. "I expect we will continue to see significant volatility in our earnings as the world manages through the unfolding crisis," Citadel boy wonder Ken Griffin wrote in a letter to customers this week.  Says a UBS exec: "It’s more like climbing down a ladder, rather than falling down a cliff."
(More financial crisis stories.)

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