Citigroup's Stock Surges To 8 1/2-year High After UBS Upgrade

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Shares of Citigroup Inc. shot up 2.1% in morning trade Friday to an 8 1/2-year high, after the moneycenter bank was upgraded at UBS on the belief that the previous bearish case had become less likely. Analyst Saul Martinez raised his rating to neutral from sell, and lifted his stock price target to $64--1% below current levels--from $58. Martinez said his bearish case was based on Citi having less leverage than its peers to the potential positives of lower corporate taxes, faster economic growth and higher interest rates, and greater exposure to potential downside from protectionist policies and other geopolitical risks. Only 43.1% of Citi's revenue over the last 12 months came from the U.S., according to the a FactSet analysis, compared with 77.1% for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and 86.5% for Bank of America Corp. . "This argument is harder to make today," Martinez wrote in a note to clients. "Global growth looks resilient, starkly protectionist policies have not emerged, and importantly, the path forward for structural reforms in the U.S. is not as clear." The stock, which was on course for the highest close since Jan. 9, 2009, has gained 8.6% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Bank ETF has tacked on 0.9% the S&P 500 has gained 9.2%.

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