To the surprise of no one on Wall Street, stocks today pulled back from the highs for the year they hit on Friday.
So many traders had predicted a retreat that it probably was pre-ordained, but the market also was weighed down by disappointing results from Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., the companies that own the nation's two biggest banks.
Citigroup's second-quarter profits came in a nickel short of the $1.02 a share that investors had been expecting. Bank of America's earnings of $1.07 a share were a few cents better than expected but BofA said its bond trading business is hurting -- which was considered a danger signal for all the other firms in that business.
The next two weeks will be the peak of the corporate-earnings season, when investors find out whether companies have made enough money to justify the increases in stock prices during the past couple of months.
Fear of underachieving corporations was rampant last week when the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index and the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index edged their way to their highest levels of the year.
The market had enough momentum to gain the peak, but even as it did, Wall Street prognosticators were cautioning that the streak was about to run out.
It was hard to tell today whether the faltering momentum or the concerns about big bank profits was doing the most damage.
The day's losses were spread uniformly across the market, with more stocks falling than gaining and the three familiar indexes all slipping by similar percentages.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 66 points to 10,574.99. The S&P 500 slipped seven points to 1,221.13. The Nasdaq composite fell 12 points to 2,144.87.
About 150 of the S&P 500 stocks will report quarterly profits this week, but Wall Street is also casting a wary eye on Washington, where Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is scheduled to appear before two congressional panels later in the week.
What he says about the economy -- and future interest rates -- could mean more to Wall Street than any of the profit numbers.