Over the past few days, the markets have been weighed down by weak economic data, downbeat corporate earnings forecasts, and concerns that many financial firms may post large quarterly losses in the upcoming weeks. Now at its lowest level since December 1, the Dow is down for its sixth straight session – its longest losing streak since the beginning of October. Despite this weakness, the Dow still sits about 10% above its November 21 intraday low (7,449.38) – a level that could be retested in the coming weeks.
With today’s losses, the markets have now wiped out all the gains from this year’s Santa Claus Rally, when the S&P 500 rose 7.4%. It appears that the markets’ rise during the last five trading days of 2008 and first two trading sessions of 2009 has turned out to be just another short bear market rally. While energy, consumer discretionary and industrial stocks helped lead the way during that time, those sectors have reversed course and are now pacing the markets’ decline.
However, financial stocks have been under the most pressure since the end of the Bear Market Rally. In fact, the KBW Banking Index is poised to close today below its November low to a near 14-year low. While Citigroup (-34%) and Bank of America (-27%) have been the worst performers on the Dow Industrials since the Santa Claus Rally ended, shares of regional banks like Huntington Bancshares , Fifth Third Bancorp , Regions Financials have also posted declines of more than 20% during this period.
Here’s how some of the other major indices and sectors have performed this year: