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TheStreet Open House

Citigroup: Market Momentum Winner

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Citigroup (C) was the winner among the largest U.S. banks on Tuesday, with shares rising 1.5% to close at $43.60.

The broad indexes all ended with 1% gains, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new all-time intraday record high. The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was up slightly to close at 55.01, with all but six of the 23 index components rising for the session.

"The retail investor has come back in with a fury, relative to what we have seen the past two years," said Cuttone Director of Sales and Marketing Keith Bliss, in an interview with TheStreet. But Cuttone warned that "when retail investors really plow hard into a market, that generally signals a top."

"We have never seen this amount of involvement from the central banks around the globe, playing inside the asset markets," Cuttone said, adding that stimulative monetary policy has made equity markets "the only place where you can get substantial yield."

Any concerns that investors have had over the $85 billion in mandatory federal budget cuts that kicked in last Friday has apparently been outweighed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's strong defense of the central bank's "highly accommodative" monetary policy.

"The Fed's current quantitative easing (QE) policy of buying $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage securities per month swamps the $85 billion sequester for the fiscal year 2013," said UBS economist Maury Harris in a report early Tuesday. "Public confidence gauges are improving despite the highly publicized sequester headlines, as QE has helped boost job growth... and politicians' doomsday sequester rhetoric may not be very credible for a public expressing little confidence in their elected leaders," Harris wrote.

Tuesday's economic news supported the increased confidence in the U.S. economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management on Tuesday said that its Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) increased to 56.0% in February from 55.2% in January. The consensus among economists was for the index to rise to 55.3, according to Zacks.

Citi Conference


At his firm's Financial Services Conference on Tuesday, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat outlined the company's long-term goals, which include growing earnings sufficiently to achieve a return on tangible common equity (ROTCE) of 10.0% by 2015. The company's unadjusted 2012 ROTCE was 7.9%.

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