Unsettling trading day as investors ponder China, Greece

China, Greece, Puerto Rico and Wednesday NYSE trading halt join today’s job numbers, blunting Thursday morning’s positive market open.

Was yesterday's NYSE mess due to a cyber attack?
Was yesterday's NYSE mess due to a cyber attack? Some people think so. We weigh in below.

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2015 – The crosstalk in world markets has become so overwhelming that the average investor can no longer figure out what to do. Buffeted by Grexit fears, China fears, Puerto Rico fears, interest rate fears, oil price fears, Iran fears and—just today—rocky U.S. unemployment numbers, traders don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or go to 100 percent cash and stuff it in their mattresses.

Let’s look at those job numbers, via CNBC/Reuters:

“New applications for U.S. unemployment insurance benefits rose last week to their highest rate since February, but remained at levels considered consistent with a firming labor market.

“Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 297,000 for the week that ended July 4, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Thursday.

“The previous week’s claims were revised to 282,000, showing that 1,000 more people filed than initially reported. Economists polled by Reuters had expected new applications to fall to 275,000 last week.”

Yesterday’s NYSE trading halt didn’t add to market confidence, either. The exchange, which ended up being offline for most of the trading day as other trading venues took over the load, claims this morning that the problem that shut them down was probably due to unexpected complications involved in ramping up “new and improved” software. That’s a good excuse to hide behind, given that such things do happen quite frequently in a variety of computerized environments.

On the other hand, ZeroHedge more ominously noted that the Wall Street Journal, United Airlines and—astonishingly, ZeroHedge itself—were inexplicably down Wednesday as well, each for roughly two hours or more. Indeed, we noted that both Zero and WSJ, which we often access, were offline when we tried the URLs.

Zero, which often unearths real and/or imagined nefariousness behind potentially related outages like these, wondered if selective cyberattacks were involved, possibly from China, which has been experiencing its own serious market meltdown.

Citing Norsecorp, an interesting site we’ve never encountered before, Zero referred readers to a 24/7 live cyberattack map that charts cyberattacks in real time on a world map, noting constant, heavy attacks from Chinese sites on U.S. sites, the heaviest of which were aimed for some reason toward St. Louis, with secondary attacks hitting Seattle. A snapshot appears below.

Here's a fusillade incoming from China.
Here’s a fusillade incoming from China.Here’s the entry, to which, alas, we no longer have the link:

“After a series of cyber failures involving first UAL, then this website, then the NYSE which is still halted, then the WSJ, some have suggested that this could be a concerted cyber attack (perhaps by retaliatory China unhappy its stocks are plunging) focusing on the US. So we decided to look at a real-time cyber attack map courtesy of Norsecorp which provides real time visibility into global cyber attacks.”

Follow the link above to look at this interesting, animated map, and update it for today’s cyber-action. What all this had to do with Zero’s own outage is unclear. But when we visited the Norsecorp battle map today, we noticed that the attacks from China were continuing at a lower level. Surprisingly, we also spotted huge fusillades hitting Seattle in particular from sites in southwest Germany and the Black Sea shore of Turkey.

Now, it looks like our "friends" in Turkey are getting in on the cyber action.
Now, it looks like our “friends” in Turkey are getting in on the cyber action.

We’ll pursue this in a future article, as it begins to give shape to the cyberwar we’re now involved in 24/7. But we’re not really sure any of this was involved in yesterday’s outages which one again seem due to bad traffic management or institutional ineptitude.

Zero also believes that the shorts have been making a concerted effort to pound world markets down—hard—something the Chinese seemed furious about yesterday, even to the point where some Chinese reports were blaming bond guru Bill Gross and mega-rich New World Order George Soros as the potential villains in chief behind the trashing of Chinese exchange traded stocks. “Tyler Durden” is probably on firmer ground with regard to this accusation, as illustrated in this July-July 8 trading chart that appears on the site:

The shorts and plain old sellers seem to bang down every rally attempt these days, as this chart, dating from Monday, would seem to indicate.
The shorts and plain old sellers seem to bang down every rally attempt these days, as this chart, dating from Monday, would seem to indicate.

Tyler might be onto something here, as shorts have been rigidly punished for years by our ridiculously extended and QE-encouraged bull market. They might indeed be out for revenge, and probably are. But given the market dynamic, it’s even clearer that a lot of 2015’s negativity is simply good, old-fashioned stock dumping by big investors and funds that have made their pile and decide to get out every time a decent rally shows up.

We’re pretty much standing pat today as this morning’s over 150 point DJI rally slowly peters out near 3 p.m. EDT. There’s infinitely more nonsense going on than any investor or site can track these days, and some of this stuff will have to get sorted out before buyers have the courage to get back in.

We wish we were a bit lighter on stocks at the moment, but nobody’s perfect. We’ll stand pat for now and stay on the sidelines as the gods battle it out on Mt. Olympus and everywhere else.

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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