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Friday's Financial Winners & Losers

Financial stocks were mixed Friday and hovered near the flat line as positive analyst notes and deal-related news offset a few more stabs of bad news.

Among the day's biggest price gainers was Slade's Ferry Bancorp (SFBC), a small-cap name that soared 57% after fellow Massachusetts concern Independent Bank (INDB) agreed to buy it for around $25.50 a share, or $105 million. The stock-and-cash deal should close in the first quarter.

Independent foresees 2008 earnings accretion, excluding one-off merger items. Slade's shares bounced $8.72 to $24.02; Independent was recently up 0.6% at $30.42.

Dollar Financial (DLLR), of Berwyn, Pa., gained 4.4% to $31.43 after agreeing to buy 82 of CCS Financial Services' Florida check-cashing stores for about $100 million. Dollar expects earnings accretion immediately on closing, with 19 cents to 22 cents a share predicted over the following year in addition to some $45 million in revenue. The deal will probably close within the next two months.

In brokerage action, Knight Capital (NITE) got a sharp lift after Goldman Sachs upped the online broker to buy, saying its stock is now too cheap given an ongoing share-buyback program and other positive developments. Shares of the Jersey City, N.J., company tacked on 82 cents, or 6.3%, to $13.87.

Also rising on upgrades were Centene (CNC), a St. Louis-based health insurer and managed-care provider, and New York's Annaly Capital Management (NLY), which garnered positive ratings at Lehman Brothers and RBC Capital Markets, respectively. Shares added 3.5% and 1.6%.

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