Bank Stocks Sink Again, Led by First Niagara

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- First Niagara Financial Group's (FNFG) was again the loser among major U.S. banks on Monday, with shares sliding 3% to close at $8.81, adding to Friday's loss of nearly 12%.

At least two analysts downgraded First Niagara to neutral ratings after CEO Gary Crosby made a surprise announcement of a major four-year investment program to improve the company's technology and financial performance. First Niagara has more than quadrupled in size over the past five years through a string of acquisitions that have been dilutive to shareholders.

Please see Should You Wait for First Niagara to Get Its Act Together? for more on First Niagara's planned transformation, financial performance and prospects for the stock.

The broad market continued its decline, following international markets lower on continued concerns over a slowdown of emerging economies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.26%, while the S&P 500 pulled back 0.49% and the NASDAQ Composite fell 1.1%.

Turkey's central bank said it would hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday, at which it could consider a significant hike in interest rates to defend its currency.

Despite the international market uncertainty over the past few trading sessions, the Federal Reserve is expected to continue tapering its monthly purchases of long-term bonds, following the meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday of the Federal Open Market Committee. The FOMC following its December meeting announced the central bank's bond purchases would be lowered to $75 billion a month from $85 billion.  Economists expect a further cut in monthly bond purchases to $65 billion.  The bond purchases have been meant to hold down long-term interest rates.  Long-term rates rose considerably during 2013 with the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds rising to 3.00% heading into the fed's initial tapering of "QE3" bond purchases, but then pulling back.  The market yield on the 10-year bond was up 5 basis points on Monday to 2.77%.

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