Citigroup Says Sayonara to This Week's Early Gains


After the "Tepper Rally" helped Citigroup bring home a 6% gain last week, the bank is closing out the last five days of trading at a 2.41% loss. Despite some news today that the bank's continued improvements have helped reduce some of its burdens, it closed out the day in the red.

Highly anticipated economic news
This week was a sparse one for economic data releases, leaving Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the Joint Economic Committee in Congress on Wednesday to be the first real news we received. And even though the line remained the same -- that the FOMC would continue to watch for signs of increased recovery before paring down its current stimulus policy -- speculation about the timing of such cutbacks took hold of Wall Street.

Though the testimony initially boosted Citi and its competitors, by day's end, any gains had been lost.

News from the East
But Thursday was really the day that killed Citi's chances of ending the week higher, as news that the Japanese markets had fallen sharply reached the US. Since Citi derives 18%-20% of its revenue from Asian markets, the bank took a heavy hit from investors fearing weakness. Down sharply early on in trading, Citi was able to crawl its way back higher, but stayed firmly in the red.

In its first-quarter earnings presentation, though, Citi displayed the ability to offset weakness in the Asian markets (which is nothing new) by increased revenue generation in emerging markets. Latin America proved to be the best performer, with a 6% increase on the top line that offset the 1% decrease from Asian operations.

If that's not enough, Thursday's positive jobless claims report, which showed a continued decline in new unemployment claims, prompted investors to fear even more that the current monetary easing would be cut back or ended soon, sending the market down further.

Ending on a better note
Though it wasn't a big enough headline to boost the bank back into positive territory today, Citi has one more metric that shows its operations are on the right track and producing at top levels. Since the crisis, both Citi and Bank of America have had to pay top premiums to insure themselves against defaults on their debt. While this is not unusual, Citi and B of A were paying upwards of $420,000 to $300,000 more than other banks per $10 million in debt, respectively.

But all that has changed -- the spread between Citi, Bank of America, and the other banks has dropped significantly since both banks have improved operations and cut expenses, while boosting profits. Citi now pays a premium above the other banks' rate of $7,000 according to Markit data. Bank of America is slightly higher, at $12,000.

While Citi continues to improve its business and make headway in international markets outside of Asia, investors still have a lot to look forward to with this bank. While this week may have ended with a 2.41% loss for the bank, it's still up 7.24% for the month, and sitting on a 22.5% gain year to date. With outside forces causing the majority of this week's drop, long-term investors shouldn't feel concerned as they head into their Memorial Day weekends.

Citigroup's stock looks tantalizingly cheap. Yet, the bank's balance sheet is still in need of more repair, and there's a considerable amount of uncertainty after a shocking management shakeup. Should investors be treading carefully, or jumping on an opportunity to buy? To help figure out whether Citigroup deserves a spot on your watchlist, I invite you to read our premium research report on the bank today. We'll fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Citigroup, and what areas that Citigroup investors need to watch going forward. Click here now for instant access to our best expert's take on Citigroup.

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