NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Big banks and regional players saw their share prices move in opposite directions Tuesday as disappointing earnings from Citigroup ( C) appeared to scare investors in large-cap financials, but continued M&A activity brightened the outlook for many regional bank stocks.

Citigroup announced it earned four cents per share in the fourth quarter versus analyst estimates of eight cents. The big reason for the miss was an accounting oddity known as a debt valuation adjustment (DVA). As a result of the rule, some banks take a negative DVA adjustment when their credit quality improves. That cost Citigroup $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter, versus Sandler O'Neill's estimate of $250 million.

Regardless, Citigroup shares fell 6.43% to $4.80 Tuesday. Other large banks dropped in sympathy, with Bank of America ( BAC) falling 1.64% to $15 and Wells Fargo losing 0.79% to close at $32.49. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) fell 0.36% to $44.75.

On the other hand, many regional bank stocks got a lift after Comerica ( CMA) agreed to buy Sterling Bancshares ( SBIB) for $1 billion, or $10 per share--a 30% premium over Sterling's close at $7.70 on Friday. Sterling shares closed up just 16%, however, at $8.93. Comerica shares, meanwhile, fell 8.31% to $38.74, even on the back of earnings that beat analyst expectations.

Shares of regional bank s thought to be targets of M&A activity also rose on Tuesday. Synovus Financial ( SNV) shares were up 4.87% to $2.90, while SunTrust Banks Inc. ( STI) saw its stock rise 1.14% to $29.25.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.
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