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Those Who Pick Investments Try Their Hand At Invasion Dates

November 8, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ If U.S.-led forces open fire on the Iraqis during a 10-day time frame beginning Monday, at least two financial advisers can chalk up one for their handicapping abilities.

Anytime after midnight between Nov. 12 and Nov. 22 is ″the best time for an attack to occur,″ according to Peter Beutel and Thomas Blakeslee, oil analysts with Pegasus Econometric Group Inc., in Hoboken, N.J.

The Kuwaiti tide will be high after midnight, which would help commandos get closer to a potential beachhead, the analysts say, and the moon phase will keep the sky dark, making it easier to storm the desert.

As news and rumors swirl through financial markets that have rocked crazily since Iraq invaded Kuwait, many experts who see war as inevitable are now trying their hand at pinpointing the starting time.

Potential dates on which the war might begin are now floating freely through the investing community, with varying amounts of credibility.

The Pegasus analysts, who offer advice on oil trading at the New York Mercantile Exchange, have gone so far as to put their predictions in writing. They call Nov. 12-22 ″a time to play any short positions extremely closely. If there is any military action, expect the U.S. to lead with its strong aerial suit.″

They emphasize they’re not predicting war, and don’t want to convey the impression that there’s a sure-fire profiteering opportunity. They are merely saying when and how they think war would be most likely.

Other wartime picks are perhaps not being made as boldly, but they are cropping up by the hundreds. Many analysts picked the days after the elections on Tuesday, with some taking coming holidays into account.

″Another theory one hears about is the weather factor,″ said Ann-Louise Hittle, a senior oil analyst with Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. who emphasizes she is neither making nor touting any picks for a likely day that the war can begin.

″There’s a cloudy season that starts up, an overcast season in February, that would make it difficult to stage an air strike,″ Hittle said.

One stock market analyst has heard numerous Wall Streeters picking precise days for the attack, say, this coming Sunday.

″If I talk to 47 people, I get 47 opinions,″ said Sara Cerato of Nomura Securities International Inc. ″Each of these opinions seems to be an excuse not to get into the (stock) market right now. In the past, in a bull market, it paid to buy the market dips. Now, it doesn’t seem to be working. The war seems to be the latest excuse″ to stay out.

Early in the week, some oil traders were picking invasion days between Wednesday, which came and went with no war, and Friday.

A Las Vegas oddsmaker said it would be possible to handicap the outset of war, just as people handicap anything else from football games to movies that might win an Oscar. But don’t count on any Vegas sports books getting involved in war speculation.

It’s only legal for them to set odds on sporting events. Other oddsmaking is done only for promotional and entertainment purposes.

″We put out odds on whether George Steinbrenner would be banned from baseball,″ said oddsmaker Art Manteris of the Las Vegas Hilton. ″We put out odds on whether Pete Rose would be admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame.″

Manteris said handicapping war would be ″a business matter, not an entertainment matter.″

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