Bank brokerages may be the mouse that yawned after Friday's 3% drop in the stock market.
Many executives with bank securities operations worried over the weekend about what Monday would bring. But the day was kind, executives said, as most customers treated it like any other day.
Consumers at bank brokerages appear to have held their ground, neither frantically selling off stocks, bonds, and mutual funds nor viewing Friday's 171-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average as a significant buying opportunity.
That muted reaction confirms repeated claims by mutual fund executives and trade groups, such as the Investment Company Institute, that investors have learned not to panic when the market falls sharply.
"We've got a heightened sensitivity based on the crash in 1987, but we haven't seen the same reaction," said Teresa M. Buck, senior managing director of retail investments at CoreStates Securities Corp, Philadelphia.
While transaction volume at the bank-affiliated brokerage rose 15% to 20% on Friday, orders were evenly split between buys and sells, she said.
At Pershing, the investment clearing unit of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Inc., trade volume was up 10% to 15% Friday, according to Alton C. Jones, managing director of the Jersey City-based firm.
"On the retail side we didn't see a lot of sales, but we did see a lot of institutional movement on Friday," Mr. Jones said Monday. "Today, on the retail side we're seeing a brisk business, but it's not the level of overall activity we saw on Friday."
The discrepancy between institutional and retail investors' behavior underscores the different ways two classes of investors can interpret new economic data - in this case, Friday's better-than-expected employment numbers released by the U.S. Labor Department.
"I don't think the retail public views good economic news as something to panic about and a reason to get out of the market," said B. Randolph Bateman, senior vice president in charge of mutual fund marketing, Star Banc Corp., Cincinnati. "On Main Street, I think this was perceived as an event that long term is good for the economy and the market."
Overall, in the retail trenches, customers have been quiet and their brokers are relieved. "Our volume doesn't appear to be too far off the usual mark," said Timothy P. White, sales manager at Meridian Securities, Reading, Pa. "It was just another day."
John Vaughan, president of BB&T Investment Services, Charlotte, N.C., said his brokerage customers simply haven't budged.
"Are they worried? Sure, some of them are," he said. "But I can tell you that our phones aren't ringing off the hook."
However, if the stock downturn and interest rate increases continue, several bankers anticipated renewed interest in certificates of deposit.
William Plasencia contributed to this report.