January 15, 2008 10:37 ET

Stocks to Watch: C, MER, BSC, JPM

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Following Is an Investment Opinion Being Issued by

BOCA RATON, FL--(Marketwire - January 15, 2008) - Investors fled banking stocks this morning after Citigroup (C) announced the first loss in its history, meanwhile retail sales statistics for the holiday season showed no upside as consumer spending was nowhere in sight.

S&P cut CITI's rating and remained bearish for 2008 after the banking giant declared an $18 billion write-down and massive job cuts. The news, along with some weaker economic data, helped send major stock indexes lower Tuesday. Citigroup posted a net loss of $9.83 billion, or $1.99 a share, compared with a profit of $5.13 billion, or $1.03, one year earlier, on a 70% revenue drop. CITI recorded $18.1 billion in pre-tax write-downs and credit costs on sub prime related direct exposures in fixed income markets, and a $4.1 billion increase in credit costs in its U.S. consumer business, mainly because of higher current and estimated losses on consumer loans. The financial sector was under pressure with Merrill Lynch (MER), Bear Stearns (BSC) and JP Morgan trading considerably lower. Merrill Lynch said it would issue $6.6 billion in preferred shares to investors, including the Kuwait Investment Authority.

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