Investors sensed bargains at Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN), Barclays (LSE: BARC) and Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY).
Having crashed 24% in the wake of overnight sanctions-busting allegations from the New York Department of Financial Services, it wasn't much of a surprise to discover Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) was the single-most top buy among private clients of stockbroker TD Direct Investing between the market's opening and 12 noon.
Focused heavily on overseas markets -- and especially fast-growing emerging markets -- Standard Chartered has long been a relatively pricey pick among banks, having had little exposure to the combined taint of sub-prime and staggering Western economies. No longer.
As of this morning, Standard was offering a P/E of 9, and a yield of 4.3%. Accordingly, investors piled in, with the ratio of shares bought outnumbering shares sold by six to one. Heck, I fancied a dabble myself (but didn't).
Nor was the second-most popular share purchase that much of a surprise, either. In recent days, banks have continued to be popular buys among the broker's private clients, and as Barclays (LSE: BARC) dipped southwards, investors again loaded-up. No real news has emerged, but the boardroom confusion clearly continues, and investors are sensing a window of opportunity while it does.
In contrast, Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS), down 1.6% at the time of writing, was very much a net sell, featuring at fifth-place in the list of top 'sells', but not at all in the list of top buys. How come? Rumours of nationalisation, in order to use the bank's high-street and business-sector prominence to boost lending and help get the economy moving.
Completing the banking theme, Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) was the fifth-most popular buy between the market's opening and 12 noon. Again, there's no real news, but behind the headlines, there a growing sense that progress is being made. The rate of bad loans is declining, the bloated balance sheet is reducing, and the looked-for dividend gets ever closer. For some investors, then, the glass was more half-full than half-empty.
Will they be disappointed? Time will tell.
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Investing ideas from Malcolm Wheatley:
> Malcolm owns shares in Lloyds Banking. The Motley Fool owns shares in Standard Chartered.
Disclaimer: The TD Direct Investing (www.tddirectinvesting.co.uk) list of Top Ten Buys should not be taken as a recommendation to buy or sell any particular bond or stock, and is not intended as any form of advice. Instead, it is simply an indication of the general buying trends amongst TD Direct Investing customers during the period stated.