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Against the backdrop of ultralow rates and a go-slow approach by the Fed, financials have been mostly in negative territory for the year, and of the six names mentioned in Goldman’s report, only Zions has outperformed the S&P 500 in 2016.

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  • It means that financial stocks prices (bank, insurance etc.) are generally lower than their closing prices on the last trading day of 2015. Take Citigroup for instance, its closing price for 2015 was around $52 while as of yesterday's close it was arond $46,50. – user5267 Sep 20 '16 at 5:32
  • The "negative territory" is e metaphor for the negative gap between the two prices. In a similar fashion you would speak about "positive territory" for the prices which are higher than 2015 closing., – user5267 Sep 20 '16 at 5:50
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Territory is a fancy word for area, especially when there are multiple forces "fighting" or in contest for a single area, and then territory can be used to describe an area owned by something or someone.

Financial reports are influenced by things that can be considered "forces" and the writer/speaker is abstracting "positive" and "negative" as forces that fight over territory, and the "negative side" is currently "winning."

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