Howard's Business Hit - Stock Market

Honolulu (HawaiiNewsNow) - The DOW has been pretty steadily up 100 points or more since the open.  The broad market and the NASDAQ are also higher, though not as much as the blue chip index.

Earlier, we saw 3% gains by stock markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris, and before that, Asia was flat, with the Nikkei down and the Hang Seng up, but neither moving much.

A technical factor is driving the market this morning. You can buy or sell stock right this instant, but you can also buy or sell a contract to buy or sell a contract for a set price in the future.  This is a futures contract, and basically you're betting the other guy that a given stock will move in a particular direction in the future.  If you bet that a stock price will fall, that's called short-selling.

The sharpies who do this kind of trading always claim they're doing the world a service by injecting their judgment into the current value of stock, but as a practical matter, short-selling can often have the effect of becoming a self-fulfilling prediction, driving stock down on what, truth be told, is mere speculation.

So amid concerns about the debt held by major European banks, four countries have done temporary "bans" on short-selling bank stocks.  France, Italy, Spain and Belgium have all done this. Forcing traders to forget about the future and make decisions in real time whether to hold 'em or fold 'em, and it worked.  These bans took a lot of downward pressure out of the market, so European stock exchanges rose 3% on average, triggering the uptrend on wall street!