Here is legend Art Cashin’s take on yesterday’s wild trading and what to expect today.

On this day…
December 4 (King World News) – Art Cashin:  On this day (+1) in 1791, one of history’s brightest minds and maybe the poster boy for yuppies was laid to rest. At age 3, he had begun to write music. By age 10, he was accomplished on six different instruments including the harpsichord, the violin and the organ. 

When he reached 14, he was appointed concertmaster by the Archbishop of Salzburg. He wrote symphonies, small operas and concert pieces that have lasted over two centuries. His genius was such that he was hired away by the Emperor. His fame spread through the entire civilized world. By age 35, he had written over 600 major works: 20 operas; 50 symphonies; 30 concertos; 27 string quartets; 40 violin sonatas and a legion of other major pieces. 

But having fallen out of favor with both friends and patrons – and having misplayed his finances – a young (35 year old) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was simply dumped by strangers from a wagon into a paupers grave. The only acquaintance to accompany the former toast of Europe to his final resting place that cold and rainy day was…his dog (no, I don’t recall the dog’s name). 

To celebrate drop by a place called Don Giovanni’s and play something from Marriage of Figaro on your magic flute. But remember the street kid’s maxims – don’t drink things with fruit in them…never show them how bright you really are…and always have backup employment even if you are already a high school graduate. And if you want a friend in Wall Street – buy a dog. 

The bulls feared that they might end up in a pauper’s grave as stock prices melted early in Tuesday’s session. As you may recall, stocks got whacked smartly on Monday as new tariffs on steel from Brazil and Argentina hinted a possible escalation in the trade wars. 

That was compounded Tuesday morning when President Trump suggested that maybe a China trade deal should be postponed until after the 2020 election. He seemed to also expand the trade war by threatening a new set of tariffs against France. 

The impact was electric. The market gapped sharply lower on the opening bell. They worked a bit lower over the first 90 minutes of trading, losing well over 400 points. 

Very cautious buying showed up in late morning and, as the day wore on, they trimmed the losses somewhat. The final minutes of trading were helped by about $1.5 billion to buy on balance. 

Luckily, the S&P found some support around the 3065/3070. Let’s hope it holds in the future. 

Two Long Christmas Traditions Converge – Tonight we will see the lightening of the 87th annual official Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We say “official” because while the Rockefeller folks put up the first official tree in 1933, a tree at the center was first seen in 1931. Here’s how I described it a few years back: 

On this day in 1931, America was spiraling into the depths of the Depression. Thousands of banks had closed and there was a national panic that more closings might be imminent. And, large corporations announced huge layoff programs, stunning many who thought they were safe. Those who had a job were grateful just to be employed.

Among those were a group of construction workers in New York City. As they stood amidst the rubble of demolished buildings in midtown Manhattan, they talked of how lucky they were that some rich guy had hired them for a new but risky development. And, since it was near Christmas, they decided to celebrate the fact that they had a job.

They got a Christmas tree from a guy in a lot on the corner who apparently had discovered that folks with apartments suitable for 18 foot trees were not too free with the green pictures of dead presidents in 1931. So the workers stood the big tree up in the rubble and decorated it with tin cans and other items in the lot. A photographer saw it as a perfect symbol of 1931. It caught on immediately and each Christmas as the project proceeded a new tree was put up. And even after the project (Rockefeller Center) was completed two years later, management put up a new (and much bigger) tree each year.

Tomorrow the NYSE Christmas Tree on Broad Street will be lit. The NYSE tree tradition goes back to 1923 pre-dating the Rockefeller Center tree by nearly ten years. 

The tree has been an annual feature throughout good years and bad. Even during the Depression, the tradition held on. Only during the energy crisis in 1973, the lights remained unlit. The tree stood decorated and proud but not lit. 

The NYSE tree was not the first public tree in New York. That honor goes to the City Hall Tree. That was first decorated in 1913. It is a good deal smaller than its NYSE cousin. 

This year’s Rockefeller tree is 77 feet high. The NYSE tree is approximately 65 feet tall. Reasonably close. The City Hall tree is approximately 25 feet, we hear. 

Overnight And Overseas – Asian equity markets were mostly down overnight as most closed before the recent positive spin on trade talks. Tokyo and Hong Kong closed smartly lower. Shanghai had a modest selloff but India saw prices close somewhat higher. 

European stocks are trading somewhat higher with solid rallies in Paris and Frankfurt. London is fractionally higher. 

Among other assets, Bitcoin is a bit softer, trading just below $7300. Gold is slightly lower but oil has popped smartly on inventory data and renewed trade hopes. WTI is trading around $57. The euro is a shade softer against the dollar, while yields are up a tick, or two. 

Consensus – Around 4:00 a.m. (EST), Bloomberg reported “U.S. China move closer to trade deal despite heated rhetoric”. That was enough to cause a 200 point upward reversal in the Dow Futures. So far, the reversal has held but we’ve yet to hear from President Trump. 

Stick with the drill – stay wary, alert and very, very nimble.

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