Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

So much for a big bank bounce

By David Ellis, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Who cares about strong bank earnings when Goldman Sachs is under siege from the federal government?

News that Securities and Exchange Commission brought fraud charges against the venerated Wall Street firm Friday torpedoed what had been shaping up to be yet another bounce for bank stocks. Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) plunged 13% Friday.

Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) stock was up as much as 3% in pre-market trading after the company reported $3.2 billion in first-quarter profits, but those gains quickly evaporated following the SEC's stunning mid-morning announcement. Shares of BofA fell over 5%.

Shares of both Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) had been edging higher at the start of Friday's session as anxious investors were betting that they too would deliver better-than-expected results next week. At the closing bell, Wells Fargo's stock finished 2% lower while Citi's closed down over 5%.

"There was some non-discriminatory selling going on today," said Mark Lane, an equity research analyst who tracks Goldman Sachs for at Chicago-based investment firm William Blair & Co.

Bank stocks have been bounding higher this week -- and much of this year for that matter -- on the belief that the long-standing troubles the industry has faced are finally starting to subside.

Now there may be new fears that other large financial institutions could become targets for similar, and potentially expensive, federal enforcement actions.

Robert Khuzami, director of the Division of Enforcement for the SEC, left the door open to that possibility on Friday, saying that his agency was continuing to investigate both the investments that helped fuel the financial crisis as well those that helped create them.

"We are moving across the entire spectrum of products, entities and investors that might have been involved," Khuzami said in a phone call with reporters.

Others suggested that Friday's announcement was a calculated effort to stir up Main Street anger at Wall Street and get financial regulatory reform going again in Washington. Lawmakers have backed away from some of the most anti-bank proposals in recent months amid intense lobbying by the industry.

It remains uncertain whether the SEC's fraud charge could spur lawmakers to take up the so-called Volcker Rule, which would prevent banks from operating a hedge fund.

However, it could provide additional momentum to efforts aimed at imposing new rules on banks' derivatives trading business, which would eat away at some of the big profits Wall Street institutions have enjoyed in recent years. Lane said that's the biggest concern for bank investors. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,651.74 143.08 0.58%
Nasdaq 6,936.58 80.06 1.17%
S&P 500 2,675.81 23.80 0.90%
Treasuries 2.36 0.01 0.38%
Data as of 2:21am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 29.04 0.31 1.08%
General Electric Co 17.82 0.18 1.02%
Oracle Corp 48.30 -1.89 -3.77%
Micron Technology In... 42.40 0.16 0.38%
Microsoft Corp 86.85 2.16 2.55%
Data as of Dec 15
Sponsors

Sections

More than 5% of DACA recipients have started their own businesses since enrolling the program, according to a recent survey. More

Republicans said their plan would make taxes easy to prepare, and indeed the final bill gets points for some simplification. But the whole story, like the tax code, is more complex. More

Uber is being sued by Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit that was formerly part of Google. Waymo alleges that Uber stole trade secrets about its self-driving technology. More

Homeowners would be able to deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage under the final tax bill -- down from the current $1 million threshold. More