Citigroup, the largest U.S. bank by assets, retreated for a fifth straight day after it said Chief Executive Charles O. ``Chuck'' Prince stepped down. Merrill Lynch & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. also dropped.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 10.79, or 0.7 percent, to 1,498.86 at 9:44 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 81.29, or 0.6 percent, to 13,513.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 26.78, or 1 percent, to 2,783.6. About nine stocks dropped for every one that rose. Financial firms also led benchmark indexes lower in Europe and Asia.
Banks, securities firms and other financial companies in the S&P 500 have tumbled 16 percent as a group this year amid speculation that more losses lie ahead for their holdings of securities backed by mortgages and corporate loans.
Firms in the S&P 500 Financials Index that released third- quarter results so far reported an average profit decline of 22 percent, the worst quarter since Bloomberg began tracking the data in 1997. Analysts expect earnings to drop 4 percent this quarter, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.