MF Global's Shares Jumped: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of controversial commodities broker MF Global (NYS: MF) spiked as much as 26.4% in pre-market trading this morning -- then gave it all back and then some amid extremely heavy trading. As of this writing, MF shares have fallen 4% since Wednesday's closing bell and 19% from this morning's opening prices.

So what: The nightly surge came after The New York Post said that MF has hired JPMorgan Chase (NYS: JPM) to help it explore "options," including the potential sale of all or part of the company. A later Bloomberg story named Evercore Partners as the real advisor while underscoring MF's mistakes and bad practices in 2011, and the supposed buyout enthusiasm faded to black in a matter of minutes.

Now what: This is 2008 all over again for MF investors. The company has taken financial risks that would make Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns look conservative, essentially gambling on unknowable outcomes like an orderly resolution of the European debt crisis with money the firm never should have touched. This stock ran neck-and-neck with underperforming bankers such as Goldman Sachs (NYS: GS) , Bank of America (NYS: BAC) , and Morgan Stanley (NYS: MS) for most of 2011 as all four stocks lost more than 40% of their value year-to-date -- but this week's collapse makes the other guys look great by comparison.

Interested in more info about MF Global? Click here to add it to My Watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

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