Copyright 2010 MarketWatch.com Inc.All Rights Reserved
March 10, 2010 Wednesday 3:24 PM EST
SECTION: NEWS & COMMENTARY; Markets; Financial Stocks
LENGTH: 285 words
HEADLINE: Bank stocks, AIG lift financial sector
BYLINE: Greg Morcroft, MarketWatch mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Morcroft is MarketWatch’s financial editor in New York.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. financial stocks were among the market’s best-performing sectors on Wednesday as a rally in bank stocks fueled by M&A talk and continued strength in American International Group Inc. highlighted investor optimism.
Regional-bank stocks traded higher Wednesday after The Wall Street Journal reported British bank Barclays PLC (BARC) (BCS) is exploring a purchase of a U.S. retail bank. The article named SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI) , Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) and Comerica Inc. (CMA) as potential targets.
Other regional banks joining in the rally included Regions Financial Corp. (RF) , Zions Bancorp (ZION) , Marshall & Ilsley Corp. (MI) , Huntington Bancshares Inc. (HBAN) and KeyCorp (KEY) .
Citigroup Inc. (C) shares rose nearly 4% in afternoon trade amid a few bits of news, including reports of strong demand for an issue of trust preferred securities it is selling, and plans that it has to double its private banker staff in North America in the next few years.
American International Group (AIG) was the only non-bank in the top 10 sector gainers. The insurer, which rose sharply on Tuesday, added about 8%. Heading into Wednesday, AIG shares had risen the previous four trading sessions.
The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) , which tracks all the financial stocks in the S&P 500, added 1.2%. The KBW Bank ETF (KBE) added 2.4% while its sibling the KBW Regional Banking ETF (KRE) added 1.4%.
Shares of Radian Group Inc. (RDN) rose more than 3% at last check after Piper Jaffray analysts upgraded the mortgage insurer to neutral from underweight.
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