NEW YORK, (Reuters) – One dollar could buy a cup of coffee, a pack of chewing gum, or a roll of bathroom tissue.
For the first time, it could also buy a share of Citigroup Inc, once the world’s largest bank by market value. The price of a Citigroup share yesterday fell below $1 in a sign that investors are losing confidence that the lender, which operates in more than 100 countries, can be restored to health after $37.5 billion of losses in the 15 months ended Dec. 31.
Shares fell as low as 97 cents, leaving the bank with a market value below $6 billion — down from more than $277 billion in late 2006. The decline came even though Citigroup has gotten $45 billion of taxpayer-funded capital since October, and despite federal efforts to stimulate the economy and lending.
Citigroup was not immediately available for comment. “It’s nothing but bad news,” said James Barth, a finance professor at Auburn University and a senior fellow at the Milken Institute. “One might have thought the stimulus from Washington would have had some positive impact, but nothing is turning around investor confidence.