No fewer than a half-a-dozen sites featured or repeated a silly story about Tuesday’s late rally that propelled the S&P; 500 up 45 points in an hour. I am commenting because of all the emails I received on the idea.

Supposedly the Financial Times article EU ministers look at bank aid plans triggered the rally.

European Union finance ministers are examining ways of co-ordinating recapitalisations of financial institutions after they agreed that additional measures were urgently needed to shore up the region’s banks.

Although the details of the plan are still under discussion, officials said EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg had concluded that they had not done enough to convince financial markets that Europe’s banks could withstand the current debt crisis.

“There is an increasingly shared view that we need a concerted, co-ordinated approach in Europe while many of the elements are done in the member states,” Olli Rehn, European commissioner for economic affairs, told the Financial Times. “There is a sense of urgency among ministers and we need to move on.”

“Capital positions of European banks must be reinforced to provide additional safety margins and thus reduce uncertainty,” Mr Rehn said. “This should be regarded as an integral part of the EU’s comprehensive strategy to restore confidence and overcome the crisis.”

Wall Street surged 4 per cent in the final hour of trading after this FT report was initially published.

This is a case of looking for a cause and finding one.

The most likely explanation of this rally is purely technical. Support was breached, no more sellers stepped in and a short-covering rally from deeply-oversold commenced as bears covered. If you prefer, “short-term psychology changed for unattributable reasons”

It is highly doubtful this all happened because of non-statements with no details from Olli Rehn. Rather, Rehn just happened to be spouting nonsense right as the market was ready to reverse on short-covering.

It is a mistake to look for an immediate explanation for every market move. Sometimes the explanation will not come for days (then be attributed to something else), and sometimes there really is no explanation other than short-term psychology changed.

When everyone starts fishing for answers, someone will find one, no matter how silly, and the story gets repeated everywhere.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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