Why Citigroup Is Down Big Today

About one hour into the trading day, Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) is already down 1.76%. The big-four banks have all been taking it on the chin to one degree or another for the past couple of weeks, and it looks like the beatings are set to continue today.

Down markets, down sector
Here's where the rest of the big four and the markets are shaking out at the beginning of the trading day:

  • Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) is already down a big 1.26%.
  • JPMorgan Chase is down an even bigger 1.78%.
  • And Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) is down a mush-less dramatic 0.55%. (Wells' ups and downs are rarely as extreme as those of B of A, Citi, or JPMorgan, to which I credit the generally non-speculative nature of its investors. Wells is a Berkshire Hathaway holding, after all, and Warren Buffett is nothing if non-speculative. It must have rubbed off.)

The markets are all in the red today, too, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.31%, the S&P 500 down 0.30%, and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.38%.

Foolish bottom line
After B of A missed analysts' first-quarter earnings expectations two weeks ago, the big four banks have experienced some radical swings both up and down, and that seems to be continuing today.

There's also some broad economic news that's undoubtedly affecting not just bank stocks but the rest of the market, as well. Payroll processing giant ADP is reporting worse than expected private-sector jobs growth for April, with a net 119,000 hired for the month. According to Financial Times, "economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast ... 155,000." Bad jobs news never makes for a happy day in the markets.

Is there anything else going on for Citi that might be driving its share price down? Bloomberg is reporting that the merging US Airways Group and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines are in talks with both Barclays and Citi to determine which bank will issue the newly merged company's loyalty credit cards. Barclays has issued US Airways' card since 2006, while Citi has traditionally issued American Airlines.' 

For the first quarter of 2013, Citi reported revenue of $2.02 billion from Citi-branded credit cards, down 4% from the $2.04 billion in revenue reported for the same period a year earlier . As such, Citi could use the business, and that's what investors might be thinking.

Of course, this isn't breaking, CNBC-style news (I found it buried in a Google news search), so it's unlikely the average investor is tracking this, but a small sect of the Citi-obsessed might be, and a pessimistic read of the situation might be exerting some downward pressure on share price.

More likely though, Citi is just running with the herd, and the herd seems to be charging off a cliff today -- something it's become very fond of doing in the last two weeks. Just remember, Fools, keep your eye on the long term. Focus on the fundamentals of the companies you're invested in, and leave the market's short-term gyrations to the day traders. 

Looking for in-depth analysis on Citi?
Then look no further than our new premium report on the superbank. In it Matt Koppenheffer -- The Motley Fool's senior banking analyst -- will fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Citigroup. He'll also clue you in on what areas investors need to watch going forward. For instant access to Matt's personal take on Citi, simply click here now.

 


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