You don't hear the name Santa Claus much in combination with the markets, unless it's appended to the word "rally." But in Europe they like to do things differently.
Europe is approaching the Santa-Claus phase of its debt crisis. This morning Moody's cut the long-term credit ratings of Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, while keeping BNP Paribas on watch, due to their exposure to Greek debt. UK banks escaped a cut for now, but the commentary wasn't encouraging and employment figures were grim.
But stocks in Paris, London and Frankfurt are rallying. And this may be based on a last-gasp hope that European leaders have in asking Santa Claus (China) for help.
Just like in "A Christmas Story" they want just one thing. (Not an official Red Rider, carbine action, 200-shot range model air rifle; they'll settle for cash.)
And after exhausting every other avenue, they'll take their list to Santa in the form of Wen Jiabao. I doubt they have any more confidence than Ralphie did when he walked up to the department-store Santa:
"Most of us were scoffers. But moments before zero hour, it did not pay to take chances."
Wen didn't exactly decline and say that the eurozone will shoot its eye out, but he did tick off the conditions that could take the EU to the "nice" list from "naughty."
Whether either side keeps their proposed bargain is as uncertain as any kid's bargain with the jolly, fat man on Christmas Eve. But for a couple of hours, everyone can enjoy a decent rebound in equities and the euro.