October 24, 2009

Friday, October 25, 1929: Dow 299.47 -6.38 (2.1%)

One year ago today:

[Note: Once again, your regularly scheduled 1930 news will be along later in the day. Continuing the recap of the 1929 Great Crash - the following describes Thursday, Oct. 24, later known as Black Thursday.]

Market wrap: “Yesterday's market was in many respects the most extraordinary in the history of the Stock Exchange.” Market opened with wholesale liquidation of margin accounts due to yesterday's late plunge. Trading in first 30 minutes was over 1.6M shares, and pace didn't let up as session progressed; final volume was 12.895M shares vs. previous record of 8.247M. Market was in chaos by noon, with the Exchange facilities overwhelmed; brokers were flooded with orders and the stock ticker rapidly fell behind to the point of being worthless. Almost all active stocks had wide breaks in price. Selling became so panicky in the noon hour that a conference of the heads of Wall Street's largest banks was called at the J.P. Morgan offices. Following this, the market decline stopped, and then a substantial rally began that was sustained to the close.

Various wild reports accompanied the break, but these had no foundation. Weakness was obviously due to conditions within the market, and any attempts to explain it by outside developments were wholly abortive.”

Banks in the meeting at the Morgan office included Chase Nat'l., National City, Bankers Trust, and Guaranty Trust. Shortly after the meeting, support appeared in leading stocks, followed by active bidding up [Note: According to John Train's account, this was Richard Whitney's moment of glory; cutting a dignified, patrician figure, he entered the Stock Exchange and strode calmly through the pandemonium from broker to broker, placing huge buy orders above the market.]. Street estimate was that as much as $1B in banking support had entered the market. Major Exchange houses also called a meeting, for after the market close.

Some examples of stock price movements during the session: US Steel from 204 to 193 1/2 to 206, GE from 314 to 283 to 308; IT&T from 110 3/4 to 79 to 106; Radio from 68 1/2 to 44 1/2 to 58 1/4; Montgomery Ward from 83 1/4 to 50 to 74.

NY City Mayor Walker to be presented with 20-year, $1B program for city traffic relief drawn up by Day & Zimmerman; centerpiece is $200M tunnel under Fifth Ave. to run length of Manhattan.

Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching calls commercialism in college athletics involving subsidies to university football players the “darkest single blot on American college sport”; names a number of leading universities.

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