As we kick off this week, the biggest question on people’s minds is – what drove the stock market’s wild swings last week, and what’s next on the cards?


As I always say, there is no crystal ball but if historic October mood swings are anything to by then maybe there is more to come.

From one day to the next last week, even within a few hours, stocks swung from despair to optimism, deep losses to big gains. Investors were storm-tossed in every part of the world with plunging oil prices, signs of a slowdown in Europe and fear of Ebola on the downside yet strong corporate earnings and reassuring jobs market figures on the upside.

The only true winner appear to be the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s volatility index. Also known as the VIX, it doubled over the past month: from 12 to 26. Even though that’s nowhere near the 80 reached in the financial crisis, the recent spike means traders are bracing for more big jumps and steep drops. All of a sudden Wall Street’s fear gauge is beeping once again.

Alex Wong of Ample Capital expects to see continued volatility into the coming week and through the earnings season.  “I think it’s still too early to call for a market bottom,” said Alex. “Probably we will continue to see a continuation of this volatile market because on Friday in the U.S. small cap stocks retreated a lot.”

In India, the weekend ended on a high note as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won the largest number of seats in two important state elections – Maharashtra and Haryana. It’s definitely good news. Mr Modi has already initiated national efforts to clean up the country and rein in the country’s bureaucrats. The BJP state wins strengthen his ability to push through these initiatives at the local level too.

So what should we be looking out for this week?

A possible European recession

German’s poor manufacturing numbers last week proved to be the icing on the cake. The International Monetary Fund cut its 2014 Eurozone growth estimate to an anemic 0.8 percent and then plunging industrial output numbers for August didn’t help either. Investors are terrified that Europe could slip into another recession and the slowdown could impact the US and emerging markets alike. Let’s see what happens with the Eurozone’s purchasing managers’ index, a broad gauge of business activity, which comes out Thursday.

A possible pickup in US spending

Given that one of the triggers for the 460 point drop in the Dow last Wednesday was a report showing a decline in September retail sales, a spending pickup would be a great medicine to pacify investors’ jitters. Let’s see what happens when Amazon reports earnings on Thursday.

China’s GDP number

Remember that China is slowing too. An AFP survey has predicted that China’s economic growth in the third quarter fell to its slowest since the depths of the global financial crisis more than five years ago. The government will release the official GDP figure on Tuesday.

The Hong Kong government’s talks with student leaders on political reform

It’s all related to the overall Mainland ethos. Carl Minzner, a Fordham Law School professor claims that in this 110th birth anniversary year of Deng Xiaoping, new Communist party slogans are stressing things like “traditional” culture and values. State researchers are being warned against foreign collaboration and archives previously open to Western scholars are being closed off. Is this how Beijing deals with influences it perceives as threats? And what does it mean for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Carrie Lam, has announced that talks with student leaders on political reform are scheduled to take place on Tuesday. Let’s hope that this time they actually happen.

All this and a slew of Q3 earnings scheduled right through the week – Apple, IBM, Amazon, China Mobile, Sands. I guess we’ll just have to wait, watch and see.

Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Send them through I will be happy to feed them to a panel of experts on Money For Nothing this week.

And for those of you who are celebrating Diwali this week, may the light of the festival fill your homes with abundance this season!