Thursday stocks spooked by rumblings in eastern Ukraine

You gotta admit, Vlad's a bit more dynamic than the Duffer-in-Chief.
You gotta admit, Vlad's a bit more dynamic than the Duffer-in-Chief. (Panel from Sergei Kalenik's "Superputin" via Wikipedia, CC 3.0. Mod. by Ponick.)

WASHINGTON, August 28, 2014 – Stocks are taking the kind of hit the Maven more or less expected today. As of approximately 11:30 a.m. EDT, the Dow is off 50 points, the S&P 500 is down 3.6, and the NASDAQ is off about 6.5: all modest drops on continuing weak volume, but to be expected with the (since withdrawn) Ukrainian warning of an ongoing Soviet Russian invasion of its eastern territory.

Problem is, anyone with a brain and a smidgen of Communist Russian history in their memory banks knew that the moment Vlad the Impaler lined up that convoy of charitable “relief” trucks on the Ukrainian border, most of what was inside was not likely to consist of milk and cookies or CARE food packages.

Bulletin: Ukraine has been under Russian attack for the better part of 2014, and Vlad is just continuing to carry on with that old Soviet Russian specialty, deception in plain sight. With most of the West effectively ruled by a political class we’d have collectively labeled as “Commie Symps” back in the more realistic 1950s, Vlad knows this wealthy, elite cadre of Western appeasers will let him get away with continuing land and nation grabs so long as he talks nice once in a while and only steals territory in little bite-sized chunks over a period of time.

Like Hitler before him, Vlad continues to count on the supine posture of Western political wimps and oligarchs who continually need “just a bit more time” to steal more of the taxpayers’ money, the better to wall themselves off against the coming Russian and ISIS jihad. Vlad actually understands this desire, as he’s only trying to fill his own and his fellow ex-KGB kleptocrats’ coffers over time as well.

All this happens with relatively little notice in the media, while we chortle and laugh at the efforts of American survivalists we watch on TV. This will all end with one painful “I toldja so.” Particularly if Vlad figures out how to co-opt the jihanimaniacs.

But we digress from the market at hand.

The market does actually care, sort of, about the above. Thin trading this week has been mostly via machines, most of whom move on headlines that are false or real. They decidedly don’t care, thank you, just so long as they can scalp actual investors for a few bucks in the process. (See comments on oligarchs and wimps above.)

We’re nibbling in this market when warranted while trimming a bit over there, fully expecting something nastier will occur next week after the Monday Labor Day Holiday. This month’s market melt-up, after July’s unpleasant beating, seemed to the Maven to have all the structural rigidity of a paper stick of cotton candy, but without the sugary goodness.

So let’s just take it easy with the trades for a bit until we see what havoc the 1% wreaks when they return next Tuesday from there hideaways on the Hamptons or the French Riviera. It all gets kind of old after awhile.

Labor Day Holiday weekend and trading hours:

All U.S. markets will be CLOSED Monday, September 1, 2014 in honor of the Labor Day holiday. That means no pre-market or after-market trading hours either on the holiday.

Ditto Canadian markets, except that their parallel Monday holiday is “Labour Day.”

All trades that would settle on a normal Monday, September 1, will settle on Tuesday, September 2 instead. Your brokerage’s mileage, of course, may vary, so check in with your broker just to confirm.

All this means that if you want to adjust your portfolio before the uncertainty of a long, tradeless holiday weekend, the time to do it is this afternoon or tomorrow before COB.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17