Stocks tumbled Friday afternoon as fears about the fallout from Dubai’s debt problems rattled Wall Street in a thinly-traded half-day session following Thanksgiving.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 155 points, or 1.5%, according to early tallies, after closing Wednesday at a 13-month high. The Dow had lost as much as 233 points in the morning.
The S&P 500 (SPX) lost 19 points or 1.7% after closing Wednesday at a 13-month high.
The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 37 points, or 1.7% after ending Wednesday just short of a 13-month high.
All financial markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, and the stock market closed at 1 p.m. Friday. Trading volume was very light with many Wall Street pros taking a five-day weekend.
“The veneer of Black Friday has been eclipsed by Dubai on a light volume day,” said Karl Mills, chief investment officer at Jurika, Mills & Keifer. “It will probably work itself out and is probably a containable fire at this piont, but it also makes people wonder what else is out there.”
Middle East fallout: The Dubai government shocked global investors late Wednesday by saying it needed at least a six-month deferment on the $60 billion in debt owed by Dubai World and Nakheel.
Dubai World is the government-owned holding company for Dubai, the most populous of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Nakheel is its real estate arm.
Dubai’s construction boom has helped transform the Emirate into one of the world’s financial centers, as well as a tourist hot spot. But Dubai has not been immune to the real estate collapse that has hit the rest of the world, with values plummeting even as pricey projects continue to get underway.
CASINO STOCKS DIP ALSO ON DUBAI WORLD NEWS
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Shares of U.S. casino companies fell on Friday amid concerns that a possible debt default at Dubai state-owned conglomerate Dubai World DBWLD.UL could derail a budding economic recovery that has seen investments by casinos in Las Vegas and emerging markets.
Casino operator MGM Mirage (MGM.N), which is a partner with Dubai World in the $8.5 billion CityCenter project in Las Vegas, saw shares dip 9 percent in early trade on the New York Stock exchange. The stock bounced back somewhat and was down 3.3 percent at $10.65 by late morning.
“Dubai is a large holder in MGM shares,” said Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Robert LaFleur. “If they’re in a position where they’re seeking liquidity, you have to wonder whether they’ll look to those shares as a source of potential liquidity.”
Dubai, part of the oil-exporting United Arab Emirates, said on Wednesday it would ask creditors of Dubai World and Nakheel to agree to a standstill on billions of dollars of debt as a first step toward restructuring.
LaFleur said, however, that Dubai World’s commitments to CityCenter are fully funded, so Dubai’s restructuring poses little risk to that project.
“It’s not like (MGM Mirage is) expecting more funding contributions from Dubai World to complete CityCenter,” LaFleur said.
CityCenter is the signature project for MGM Mirage and adds nearly 6,000 rooms to the Strip. CityCenter opens in December.
Dubai World last year sued MGM Mirage as credit dried up and CityCenter flirted with bankruptcy. The project also has been plagued by construction problems, including a number of worker deaths.
MGM Mirage said on Thursday that it does not expect Dubai World’s restructuring to affect CityCenter.
Shares of other casino operators were down a bit on Friday amid talk of a possible Dubai debt default.
“The Dubai default fears have made investors nervous in the casino sector that has exposure in the emerging markets,” said William Lefkowitz, options strategist at brokerage firm vFinance Investments.
Shares of Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O) were down 2.6 percent at $63.67 on Nasdaq. Shares of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc (PNK.N) were down 1.6 percent at $10.78 on the NYSE. Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N) were down 3.5 percent at $15.92 on the NYSE.
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