Citi Leads Banks' Snow-Day Bounce-Back

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Citigroup (C) and State Street (STT) were the winners among large-cap banks on Friday, with shares of both companies rising over 2%, as the sector rebounded from Thursday's losses.

As the Northeastern U.S. dug out from under a heavy snowfall, shares of Citigroup closed at $53.39, while State Street of Boston closed at $74.76.

The broad indices ended mixed, after Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia president Charles Plosser warned Friday that the central bank might have to be aggressive in lifting interest rates if banks were to quickly release reserves.  According to Plosser, the Federal Reserve has often been late in tightening interest rate following periods of monetary stimulus.

The Federal Open Market Committee last month announced the Federal Reserve would taper its "QE3" purchases of long-term bonds to $75 billion a month from the monthly purchases of $85 billion it had been conducting since September 2012.   The market's anticipation of the tapering pushed the yield on 10-Year U.S. Treasury bonds to 2.99% from 1.70% at the end of April.

Leading into the U.S. Senate's confirmation vote on Janet Yellen's nomination to succeed him, outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke in a speech emphasized the central bank's increased "transparency and accountability," during his tenure, which the FOMC's outline of its long-term goals in January 2012.  He also said that the economic recover in the United States "has faced powerful headwinds, suggesting that economic growth might well have been considerably weaker, or even negative, without substantial monetary policy support. For the most part, research supports the conclusion that the combination of forward guidance and large-scale asset purchases has helped promote the recovery."

In addition to the bond purchases that have been meant to hold down long-term interest rates, the Fed has kept the short-term federal funds rate in a target range of zero to 0.25% since late 2008.  The FOMC has repeatedly said it would be unlikely to raise the federal funds rate until the U.S. unemployment rate drops below 6.5%.  The unemployment rate during November was 7.0%, improving from 7.0% in December.

Bernanke said that in addition to the inevitable asset sales following the Fed's massive balance sheet expansion, the central bank had other tools it could use to raise short-term rates when appropriate.  "The interest rate on [banks'] excess reserves [deposited at the Fed] can be raised, which will put upward pressure on short-term rates; in addition, the Federal Reserve will be able to employ other tools, such as fixed-rate overnight reverse repurchase agreements, term deposits, or term repurchase agreements, to drain bank reserves and tighten its control over money market rates if this proves necessary," Bernanke said.

The point of all that will be for the Federal Open Market Committee to move beyond the extended period of taking extraordinary measures to jump-start the sluggish economy in the wake of the housing crisis, and "return to conducting monetary policy primarily through adjustments in the short-term policy rate."

The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) on Friday rose 0.8% to 69.47, with all but two of the 24 index components ending with gains.

Citigroup's shares returned 32% during 2013, following a 51% during 2012.  The shares trade for 9.6 times the consensus 2015 earnings estimate of $5.56 a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.  The consensus 2014 EPS estimate is $5.26.

State Street returned 59% during 2013, following a return of 19% during 2012.  The shares trade for 12.7 times the consensus 2015 EPS estimate of $5.90.  The consensus 2014 EPS estimate is $5.25.

The following chart shows the performance of Citigroup and State Street over the past 12 months, against the KBW Bank Index and the S&P 500 :

C Chart data by YCharts


- - Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

More from Investing

The Stock Market Has Every Reason to See a Fresh Rally

The Stock Market Has Every Reason to See a Fresh Rally

3 Simple Tips on Investing From TheStreet's Jim Cramer

3 Simple Tips on Investing From TheStreet's Jim Cramer

Tesla's Supercharger Network Is Booming -- Here's Why That's a Concern

Tesla's Supercharger Network Is Booming -- Here's Why That's a Concern

After PayPal Buys iZettle, Pay-Tech Firms Could Process These Deals

After PayPal Buys iZettle, Pay-Tech Firms Could Process These Deals

Attention 60 Minutes: Google Isn't the Only Big-Tech Monopoly

Attention 60 Minutes: Google Isn't the Only Big-Tech Monopoly