Banks Announce Major Writedowns? Duh!

That’s not even really my headline. It’s what the market is saying this morning after both Citigroup (C) and UBS (UBS) announced huge losses during the third quarter. Citi plans to take $3.3 billion in write-downs for the quarter, consisting of $1.4 billion from LBO loan commitments, $1.3 billion from losses on sub-prime securities, and $600 million from fixed income trading losses. Also hitting the wires today was news that UBS is projecting a quarterly loss of up to $690 million.

So the market’s getting crushed, right? Well, not exactly. Citi stock is up 1 percent, with UBS up 4 percent. The Dow is higher by more than 100 points, and once again sits above the 14,000 level. Now, I am not telling you this as a proclamation that the worst is over and we are off to the races. I don’t know when the credit losses will peak, and there will be more write-downs in the future, even additional adjustments from Citi and UBS.

The takeaway from this morning’s action is that everyone and their grandmother knew these write-downs were coming. The stocks have been hammered because of that. The rallies today should not be that surprising as a result. It represents a relief rally because, at least for now, the losses aren’t as bad as they could have been. That doesn’t mean things won’t get worse, it just means that, for now, the world is not ending.

Full Disclosure: No positions in the companies mentioned at the time of writing