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Stocks shoot higher on Citigroup profit news

Financial Law     updated  2009/03/10 08:51

Wall Street got some good news from Citigroup, and responded with a huge rally. Led by financial stocks, the market made its first big move upward in weeks Tuesday after Citigroup Inc. said it had operated at a profit during the first two months of the year. All the major indexes soared more than 3 percent, and the Dow Jones industrials shot up 250 points.

In a letter sent to employees Monday, Citi Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said the bank had an operating profit of $8.3 billion before taxes and special items through February — its best performance since the third quarter of 2007.

Pandit declined to say how large credit losses and other one-time items have been that would at least partially offset profit. However, word of the bank's performance broke at least temporarily a months-long torrent of bad news from the banking industry that has pounded financial stocks and in turn, the overall market.

Meanwhile, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal that cited people familiar with the matter, government officials have been examining additional ways to stabilize the bank should further problems arise. Late last month, in its third attempt to rescue the bank from collapse, the Treasury Department moved to take up to a 36 percent stake in Citi.

Citi shares jumped more than 24 percent while Bank of America Corp. was up nearly 20 percent. Other banking stocks were also sharply higher.

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