The American Banker index of 225 bank stocks fell 2.21% Friday as the market retreated after Thursday's euphoria over the Fed chairman's hint that interest rates might remain steady.

Within the generally weaker market, however, there were strong spots. Greenpoint Financial Corp. posted a gain of 68.75 cents a share, to $21.1875, on its strong second-quarter earnings. And Queens County Bancorp's shares rose 43.75 cents, to $21.8125, on a strong second-quarter showing by Haven Bancorp, a competitor on Long Island it recently agreed to purchase.

Thomas Ackor, an analyst at Tucker Anthony Cleary Gull in Portland, Maine, said the banking sector's decline was due to "the group taking a little breather" and that Thursday's activity illustrated the stocks' tendency to "get ahead of themselves."

American Banker's index of the 50 largest banks fell 1.32%. In the broader market, the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.03%, and the Dow Jones industrial average was off 110.31 points, or 1.02%, at 10,733.56.

Among the losers, Chase Manhattan Corp.'s shares eased 50 cents, to $52.6875; Bank of America Corp., 37.5 cents, to $48.75; and Wells Fargo 93.75 cents, to $42.375.

Bank stocks had rallied Thursday on generally market-friendly testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to the Senate Banking Committee. His comments were taken to suggest that the central bank might not raise interest rates at its meeting in August.

Mr. Ackor was not persuaded that the Fed is altogether finished raising rates or that bank stocks would soon enter a period of stability.

"The near-term fate of our domestic economy is far from clear: While evidence of a slowdown has materialized," he said, "we have not yet seen enough evidence to guarantee the Fed is finished raising short-term interest rates."

He upgraded Queens County to a "strong buy" Friday, based on the earnings of its merger target, Haven Bancorp, which reported earnings of 76 cents a share Thursday, well ahead of estimates.

Greenpoint did very well Friday after it reported earnings of 71 cents per share Thursday, topping the analysts' consensus estimate by 5 cents. However, it still got mixed reviews from analysts.

Thomas Theurkauf of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. raised his 2000 profit forecast from $2.65 a share to $2.85 and said Greenpoint's cash earnings power should approach $4 a share this year.

He raised his target price for this year from $25.50 to $27, based on prospects for improved revenue in the second half. He is counting on strong profits from Greenpoint's mortgage business.

Not only did loan production rise 30% in the second quarter, compared with the first, he said, but also the mortgage pipeline grew almost 20%, which points to profits for the rest of the year.

Michael Freudenstein, an analyst at J.P. Morgan, said Greenpoint is "a good company and a cheap stock" but expressed concern about short-term volatility as it recalibrates its manufactured housing business.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.