The bank stock market goes up. The market goes down.
Tuesday, it was down. Why?
Ben Crabtree, senior vice president of George K. Baum & Co in Kansas City, Mo., says the "market was taking down companies that announced acquisitions."
But ask Scott Edgar, an analyst with the Sife Trust Fund of Walnut Creek, Calif., and you get a very different answer. "Maybe the market is down on disappointment that there were no merger deals announced over the three-day weekend," he said.
Whatever the reason, Tuesday's bank stock market continued its wide swings of recent days. The Standard & Poor's bank stock index was down 3.08%, while the Nasdaq bank stock index dipped only 0.95%. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.4%.
That was in sharp contrast to a 2% jump in the S&P bank index last Friday. And Friday's rise was a dramatic turnaround from Thursday's 3.3% decline. Just about all 31 banks in the S&P bank stock index were down Tuesday.
Most bank stock moves are attributed to interest rate forecasts: Bank stocks climb when the market expects lower rates, and they fall when rates are expected to rise.
Often the interest rate outlook is the direct result of government-released statistics, such as jobless figures and the producer price index.
But nothing happened on Tuesday to affect the interest rate outlook. All that is certain is that bank stocks went down.What does that mean? It seems the underlying trend is for bank stocks to decline when all else is equal.
Wells Fargo & Co., long a darling of Wall Street, was swept along with everyone else. Its stock slipped $1.3125, or 3.17%, to $40.125.
Yet, Nancy Bush of Ryan, Beck & Co. of Livingston, N.J., usually a bearish bank analyst, upgraded Wells to "buy" from "hold."
Ms. Bush said her upgrade was not because Wells' stock fell lower, but resulted from a meeting she recently held with top management.
The new Wells Fargo, the result of a merger last year between Norwest Corp. of Minneapolis and Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco, is developing into a cohesive "earnings powerhouse," she said in an interview Tuesday. "This has evolved into a merger of equals, combining the sales-oriented culture of the old Norwest with the more sophisticated balance sheet management of the old Wells Fargo," Ms. Bush said.
"My fear is that when we get to the end of this period of consolidation, the industry will not be a great deal better off," Ms. Bush said. "Those companies that measure up will be especially valued." Ms. Bush said that Well Fargo will be among the higher-echelon companies.
"We feel strongly that this company will assume the role of a flight-to-quality bank in the next downturn, and we want to have a couple of those companies on our recommendation list," Ms. Bush said.
Wells Fargo is not in the market for a large acquisition, Ms. Bush said, but the company would like to increase its brokerage, trust, and private banking capabilities.
For the day, Bank of America Corp. dropped $1.625, or 2.61%, to $60.6875; Chase Manhattan Corp. $3.625, or 4.26%, to $81.375; and J.P. Morgan & Co. $4.75, or 3.55%, to $129.0625.