Stocks Flat After Earnings Reports From Citigroup, GE

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 17, 2009; 4:52 PM

Stocks were flat today despite a better than expected earnings report from Citigroup, the troubled New York bank that government regulators have rescued three times.

Citigroup reported a profit of $1.6 billion during its first quarter. It joins J.P.Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which beat analysts' expectations.

Despite the reports, financial stocks languished. Citigroup was down nearly 9 percent, while Goldman Sachs lost 0.5 percent. Chase was up a fraction. General Electric fell early in the morning after reporting that its profit fell 35 percent during the first quarter but closed up about 1 percent.

"I don't think there is any doubt that direct assistance from the federal government helped prop up the earnings statements of the banks," said Joseph Brusuelas, director of Moody's But that help may only provide temporary relief for the financial sector, he said. "Going forward the banks will have to show the financial community that they are on the way to recovery," said Brusuelas.

The Dow Jones industrial average, an index of 30 blue chip stocks, closed up 0.1 percent or 6 points, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 finished the day up 0.5 percent or 4 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.2 percent, or nearly 3 points.

All of the major indexes still closed the week in positive territory, creating a six-week rally that has lifted stocks from their lowest levels in 12 years.

Overseas stocks were up. London's FTSE and the Dax in Germany were both up about 1 percent. Japan's Nikkei gained about 1.7 percent.

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