NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Financial shares ended the session mostly lower Monday as TARP continued to drape itself over the news cycle.


new forecast

for the long-term cost of the Troubled Asset Relief Program indicates that the total eventual sum could amount to $141 billion, less than half the $341 billion that the White House had originally projected in August, according to an unreleased report by the Treasury Department, which is expected to present its findings to Congress. The report will be made public on Wednesday.

U.S. equities retreated from earlier gains and ended the session mixed, with the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

adding just 1.21 points and the

S&P 500

slipping 2.73 points.

In a speech Monday to the Economic Club of Washington,

Federal Reserve

Chairman Ben Bernanke

cautioned that it was too soon

to predict a full recovery for the economy and that hiccups could very well still occur. He also said that the speed of the rebound will be "slower than we would like," statements that did nothing to alter the feeling among nearly all market watchers that interest rates will remain at historically low levels well into next year.

President Obama also had TARP on his mind Monday. Addressing reporters ahead of a big economic policy speech Tuesday, Obama said that the extra funds in the program not used for bailing out banks might instead go toward reducing the deficit or increasing lending to small businesses, for which credit remains tight.

In other TARP news, word emerged that


(C) - Get Report

has a

narrow window

in which to pay back $20 billion in TARP money if it wants to rid itself of government control sooner rather than later. The bank has until the middle of next week to raise capital in a stock offering, or else it will likely have to wait until after it reports fourth-quarter results in mid January, the

Financial Times


Meanwhile, Kuwait's sovereign wealth fund said it had finished selling its stake in Citigroup, which it bought two years ago, turning a profit of $1.1 billion in the process.

After trading for much of the day in the green, Citigroup shares swung into negative territory to finish Monday's regular session at $4.03, down three cents from the previous close.

Among other "too-big-to-fail" names, shares of

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, which raised $19 billion in an equity issuance last week as it works to make due on the $45 billion it owes the government under TARP, closed Monday down 2.4% to $15.89.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

shares lost 1.2% to $41.25, while

Well Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

shares fell 2.2% to $26.36.


(MET) - Get Report

preannounced fourth-quarter results on Monday, saying higher premiums and fees will

boost its operating earnings

in the period. Shares of the company ended the session higher by 1% at $35.68, pairing earlier gains.

Elsewhere in insurance,

TST Recommends


(AIG) - Get Report

executive turmoil

continued apace as several high-ranking officials at the company, including its general counsel (a rather important position for the company at present), threatened to quit if the U.S. salary czar decided to slash the executives' year-end bonuses, according to a report in

The Wall Street Journal

, which cited anonymous sources.

Shares of AIG closed Monday at $30.17, up 5 cents.

Discount brokerages also faced some negative publicity when the bulge-bracket brokerage

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

downgraded the sector

Monday. The rationale? Historically low interest rates will cut into the firms' profit margins.

Five brokerages were mentioned in the Goldman research note, including

TD Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

, whose shares ended the day down 2.9%;


(ETFC) - Get Report

, which lost 1.2%; and

Charles Schwab

(SCHW) - Get Report

, which fell 1.4%.

For its part, Goldman's stock retreated 2% to end Monday's session at $163.85.

There were other ratings moves as well. An analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

lifted the firm's view

of charge-card issuers

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report


Capital One Financial

(COF) - Get Report


Discover Financial

(DFS) - Get Report

, citing an improving economic outlook, which would theoretically reduce the number of delinquencies and credit losses at the firms.

Shares of the card companies were mixed Tuesday: Amex gained 0.3%, Capital One fell 1.2%, and Discover added 1.5%.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.