Bank Stocks Do It Again: Fiscal Cliff Winners

Tickers in this article: AAPL BAC GS I:BKX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs (GS) was the winner among the largest U.S. banks on Tuesday, with shares rising 3.5% to close at $127.77.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) S&P 500 (SPX.X) each rose 1%, while the NASDAQ Composite (^IXIC) was up 1.5%, as investors grew more confident that President Obama and the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives would arrive at a budget deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

The President late on Monday backed off his insistence that federal income tax rates be raised for couples earning $250,000 per year or more, instead offering on Monday to limit the increased tax rates to couples with annual incomes of $400,000 or higher. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday said during a press conference that while the Republicans had offered a balanced approach to averting the fiscal cliff by cutting the federal budget deficit through revenue increases and spending cuts, "the president is not there yet," since the president's latest offer on Monday was "essentially $1.3 trillion in new revenues for only $850 billion in net spending reductions."

Boehner said that although discussions with President Obama would continue, he would introduce legislation that would "protect the American taxpayers who make a million dollars or less, and have all their current rates extended."

"I continue to have hope that we can reach a boarder agreement with the White House that would reduce spending, as well as have revenues on the table," Boehner said, "but at this point having a backup plan to make sure that as few American taxpayers are affected by this increase as possible... is the right course of action."

Shares of Apple weighed heavily on the NASDAQ, rising 3% to close at $534.00. With Apple's shares down 24% since their closing high of $702.10, on Sept. 19, Investors obviously are suspicious that earnings estimates could continue to be cut.

Still, Apple's shares look cheap, trading for just 10.9 times the consensus fiscal 2013 earnings estimate of $48.91 among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus fiscal 2014 EPS estimate is $57.34, and Apple announced on Monday that it had sold over two million iPhones in China, "just three days after its launch on December 14."

National Association of Home Builders on Friday said its Housing Market Index showed that homebuilder confidence in December ticked up to 47, the highest level the index has attained since April 2006. The December print was up 2 points from a slightly downwardly revised November index reading.

Bank stocks lead the market for a second day, with the KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) rising 2% to close at 51.60.

Bank of America


Bank of America (BAC) was up over 3% to close at $11.36. The shares have now returned 105% year-to-date, which is, by far, the best performance among the components of the KBW Bank Index. This recovery followed an epic 58% drop in 2011, as the company's legacy mortgage mess springing mainly from its purchase of Countrywide in 2008 dominated industry coverage. Even with this year's stellar return, the shares are still down 14% since the end of 2010.