The hamstrung market once again proved thoroughly unpredictable on Tuesday amid persisting credit fears, guiding financial stocks into a midday slide after a seemingly stalwart morning start.

Goldman Sachs ( GS) more or less mirrored these movements even after the New York brokerage posted a better-than-expected profit of $3.17 billion, or $7.01 a share, in the fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for $6.61 a share. Revenue sank 12.9% sequentially to $10.7 billion, but that still represents a 14.2% gain over last year and comes in ahead of the $10.2 billion average analyst estimate.

Still, Goldman shares traded largely in negative territory after a short-lived morning struggle to get above water. Recently, the stock was down $7.86, or 3.8%, at $200.77.

Ditto for Cleveland-based Third Federal Savings and Loan ( TFSL), which was down 2.7% at $11.95 despite swinging to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $15.1 million, or a nickel a share, from a year-ago loss. Those earnings also include a sizable income-tax expense, whereas last year's results were helped by a big tax-related gain.

Washington Mutual ( WM), meanwhile, announced the retirement of its chief legal officer, 10-year company veteran Fay Chapman. The Seattle savings bank didn't specify a date for this, but it did say that Chapman will serve as a consultant for two years to help with the transition and provide special counsel. WaMu shares were down 64 cents, or 4.3%, to $14.28.

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