( Updated with stock price moves.)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- American International Group (AIG - Get Report) was among the top performers of the financial sector Friday following a report the insurer has resolved a tax issue that may clear the way for a sale of a foreign life-insurance unit.
AIG shares rose nearly 6% after The Wall Street Journal reported that lawyers for the insurer and MetLife (MET - Get Report) have been told by the Internal Revenue Service that it ruled in their favor on a tax question. The ruling clears a major hurdle in finalizing the $15 billion sale of AIG's American Life Insurance unit to MetLife.
Meanwhile, AIG said Friday it will sell its remaining 13.8% stake in Transatlantic Holdings (TRH). Transatlantic said it plans to buy up to 2 million shares of its own stock from an AIG subsidiary.AIG shares were lately up $1.55, or 5.8%, to $28.26. MetLife was climbing 1.2% to $38.55, while Transatlantic Holdings fell 3.7% to $51.75. Capital One Financial (COF - Get Report) was also among winning financial stocks Friday even after Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded the stock to neutral from buy, citing near-term worries over consumer credit. Capital One shares were up 1.7% to $37.47. Among other credit-card issuers, American Express (AXP) rose 2.3% to $39.80, and Discover Financial (DFS) gained 2.7% to $14.14. Among U.S. bank stocks, JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) and Washington Mutual (WAMUQ.PK) were on the rise on a report that talks over a disputed $3.7 billion deposit claimed by both JPMorgan and Washington Mutual. The Wall Street Journal reports that lawyers for Washington Mutual say the nearly $4 billion represents deposits made by the parent company of the failed thrift and should be used to repay creditors. JPMorgan argues that it owns the disputed $4 billion, which it views as a capital contribution to Washington Mutual's banking operations from its holding company. Both parties will return to bankruptcy court on March 12. JPMorgan shares were up 1.4% to $42.51, while WaMu shares surged by 21.2% to 40 cents on the Pink Sheets. Among other major bank stocks trading higher Friday, Goldman Sachs (GS) climbed 2.2% to $167.25, Wells Fargo (WFC) gained 1.7% to $28.90, Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) advanced 1.7% to $16.68, Citigroup (C - Get Report) added 1.5% to $3.48, and Morgan Stanley (MS) was up 0.5% to $29.35. -- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston. Follow Robert Holmes on Twitter and become a fan of TheStreet.com on Facebook.