The financial sector could only hang on desperately against yet another wave of bad news Wednesday, including another recession forecast.Goldman Sachs was the newest
Shares of the Armonk, N.Y.-based company were falling 78 cents to $13.20 to extend yesterday's dive, which came on the heels of slashed 2008 bottom-line estimates at Morgan Stanley. Fellow bond insurer Ambac ( ABK), whose estimates were also cut at Morgan Stanley yesterday, lost another 9.6%, and Security Capital Assurance ( SCA) was off another 17% at $2. Mortgage lender Countrywide ( CFC) also continued hurting on some
grim December results . Foreclosures for the month, as a ratio of its total mortgage loans, more than doubled year over year to 1.44%, and delinquencies as a percentage of unpaid principal balance climbed by more than half to 7.2%. Following yesterday's plunge on hastily denied bankruptcy rumors , Countrywide shares were shedding another 55 cents, or 10.1%, to $4.92 in frenzied trading. Mortgage insurers likewise remained in the doghouse after a bruising day Tuesday: PMI ( PMI) surrendered 19.7% recently; Radian ( RDN) lost 13.7%; and MGIC ( MTG) slipped 7.2%. Elsewhere in negative territory, Louisiana-based IberiaBank ( IBKC) gave up 13% on a Keefe Bruyette downgrade to underperform, and Oregon's West Coast Bancorp ( WCBO) said it will lose between 46 cents and 50 cents a share in the fourth quarter thanks to a $30 million pretax credit-loss provision. The vast majority of that is planned for expected losses from the firm's two-step housing loan portfolio, said the bank. Shares were plummeting 17.7% to $13.25. On the other hand, Bear Stearns ( BSC) traded mostly higher after last night's post-close confirmation that James Cayne is stepping down as CEO while staying on as board chairman. President Alan Schwartz replaces him. Yesterday, Bear shares had closed lower following preliminary reports on Cayne's impending departure. Today, the stock saw some rocky trading, but it recently added 2.9% to $73.20. Meanwhile, struggling online broker E*Trade ( ETFC) took back some of yesterday's horrendous cash worries-induced losses after announcing that it sold $3 billion in available-for-sale securities , including mortgage-backed securities and municipal bonds. The firm said it took a loss of less than $5 million on the sale. E*Trade also announced that it had sequentially eliminated $3.5 billion in advances and repurchase agreements from the Federal Home Loan Bank, thus ending the year with $10.5 billion in excess borrowing capacity from the FHLB. After a brief midday dip to the flat line, shares of New York-based E*Trade were lately adding 13 cents, or 5.8%, to $2.38. H&R Block ( HRB) also gained some ground after its unit Block Financial said in a regulatory filing that it had sold $600 million in bonds. Proceeds are planned for paying off existing debt, as well as for working capital and other general corporate purposes. Shares of the Kansas City, Mo.-based tax preparer were recently 3.2% higher at $17.54. And Federated Investors ( FII), a Pittsburgh-based investment manager, rose 3.6% after JPMorgan upped the stock to overweight from neutral. According to Reuters, the analyst cited the solid performance of money market funds even amid the currently blistering broad-market conditions. Federated shares were changing hands at $40.38.