U.S. Stocks Plunge After House Votes Against Bailout Plan

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks plunged and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tumbled the most since 1987 after the House of Representatives voted down a $700 billion plan to rescue the financial system.

Sovereign Bancorp Inc. tumbled 66 percent and National City Corp. slid 52 percent, leading financial shares in the S&P 500 to an 11 percent slide. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed markets sank 6 percent, the most since its creation in 1970

“It’s pretty much a nightmare,” said Michael Nasto, the senior trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc., which manages $5 billion in San Antonio. “This is the worst we’ve seen it since the credit mess started. Until we know exactly why they didn’t pass it, we’re going to be selling off for a while.”

The S&P 500 sank as much as 87.02 points, or 7.2 percent, to 1,125.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 631.13, or 5.6 percent, to 10,512 at 2:09 p.m. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 148.4, or 6.8 percent, to 2,034.94.

S&P 500 extended last week’s 3.4 percent retreat after the House voted 205 to 228 against the measure to authorize the biggest government intervention in the markets since the Great Depression. The crisis that began with bad home loans to subprime borrowers is threatening to push the economy into a recession as consumers lose confidence and banks cut back on lending.

The Dow average swung by more than 200 points during fifteen trading days in September as the government seized the two largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy; Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to sell itself to Bank of America Corp.; American International Group Inc. was taken over by the Treasury; and Washington Mutual Inc. was seized by regulators in the biggest U.S. bank failure in history.

Lawmakers reached an agreement yesterday on the $700 billion bailout plan as House Republican leaders backed away from opposition to Paulson’s proposal after it included plans to create insurance for mortgage-backed securities.

The plan “will not jump-start lending, as house prices appear likely to keep falling for some time,” Ian Morris, chief U.S. economist at HSBC Holdings Plc, wrote in a Sept. 26 note to clients. “The forces of deleveraging are overwhelming, and so the credit crunch will remain over the next few quarters. As a result, the economy would be virtually stalled over the next year.”

Wachovia shares were halted on the New York Stock Exchange after tumbling more than 90 percent in trading before the official open. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. helped arrange the takeover of Wachovia’s banking operations by Citigroup, the largest U.S. bank by assets. Citigroup will absorb as much as $42 billion of losses on Wachovia’s $312 billion pool of loans, the FDIC said in a statement. Citigroup also said it will halve its quarterly dividend to 16 cents a share and sell $10 billion in stock. Citigroup added 23 cents to $20.38.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg invested 11.2 billion euros ($16.3 billion) in Brussels and Amsterdam-based Fortis, Belgium’s largest financial-services firm, to restore confidence in the bank. Bingley, England-based Bradford & Bingley, Britain’s biggest lender to landlords, was seized by the U.K. government after the credit crisis shut off funding. Hypo Real Estate, Germany’s second-biggest commercial-property lender, received a 35 billion euro loan guarantee to fend of insolvency.

The euro interbank offered rate, or Euribor, rose 10 basis points to 5.24 percent, the biggest jump since June, the European Banking Federation said today. Singapore’s benchmark rate for three-month U.S. dollar loans rose to the highest level in eight months.

To contact the reporter for this story: Eric Martin in New York at emartin21@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: September 29, 2008 14:12 EDT
By Eric Martin

Source: Bloomberg

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