Today's Papers

Stock Coverage

Wall St.’s big comeback is everybody’s lead. As if to illustrate the transitoriness of the stock market and journalism about it, the USA Today headline–“Markets rebound”–is in the same bold type as its headline yesterday–“Massive Sell-off.” At one stroke, the Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest one-day gain and its heaviest volume ever–more than 75 percent greater than the previous record, which was set yesterday. One investor pointed out to the Wall Street Journal that the 1.2 billion share volume would have been a whole year’s worth of trading in 1958.

The trading day started off down nearly 200 points, but the papers agree on the main reasons for the mid-session turnaround: the chief strategist for Goldman Sachs recommended that investors boost the stock portion of their portfolios, and IBM and several other blue-chippers announced company buy-backs of their stock. The Washington Post adds some political reasons: President Clinton briefly interrupted a speech he was giving on education to reaffirm his faith in the strength and soundness of the economy, and the Labor Department issued a report about worker wages that indicates inflation remains under control.

Ultimately, say the papers, it had to do with the decision of investors to get back in the market (Duh. What else could it be?), which the WSJ calls “a sweeping reaffirmation of their love affair with stocks,” and the New York Times describes as “Main Street [riding] in yesterday to rescue Wall Street.”

In general, the NYSE handled the volume glitchlessly, although, notes the WSJ and NYT, NASDAQ ran into bottlenecks as the rally built. The Journal also confirms yesterday’s WP story that on-line trading was hit-or-miss.

Everybody’s coverage continues to focus heavily on the DJIA, which is a basket of only 30 stocks, some of them hardly key players in the emerging world economy, instead of broader market measures like the S&P 500.

The Los Angeles Times front page brings the news that Jerry Brown declared his candidacy yesterday for mayor of Oakland. The paper notes that Brown made the announcement in the gourmet kitchen of his $2 million combination home and workspace. No mention of whether the uniform of the day was $1500 suit or flannel shirt and jeans.

Both USAT and the LAT have front-page pieces reporting that the NBA has picked two female referees to work the upcoming regular season, a decision believed to be a first for men’s top-level professional sports. For tips on what it will be like to work in a testosterone-addled workplace, the two might want to check out the NYSE: the NYT front-page picture of happy floor traders shows approximately 30 faces, just three of them women.

In her column today Maureen Dowd charges that in Hollywood, entertainment pooh-bahs are “skittering away” from its recent spate of China-bashing movie releases out of fear of losing access to Chinese markets. Similarly, the WP runs a “Style” section piece that quotes a spokesman for MGM-United Artists, the studio responsible for “Red Corner,” which depicts an oppressive Beijing court system, as saying, “the film is presented solely for its entertainment value.” The piece also has the marketing guy for “Seven Years in Tibet” saying “We never thought of this as an anti-China movie.”

Back to the stock market: Merrill Lynch’s chief strategist tells the WSJ today, “I’m the lousiest market timer in the history of the world.” Hmmm…don’t remember seeing that in the brochure. .