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Cullen/Frost Bankers: Acquisition Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Cullen/Frost Bankers (CFR - Get Report) of San Antonio was the winner among regional U.S. banks on Wednesday, with shares rising 2% to close at $73.37.

The broad indices all saw significant declines, after Macy's (M) reported disappointing second-quarter results and lowered its full-year guidance, leading investors to fear further disappointment from coming earnings announcements from Kohl's (KSS), Wal-Mart (WMT) and, of course, J.C. Penney (JCP). It is worth mentioning that Macy's earnings were up 7.5% year-over-year, and that during the first half of 2013 the retailer generated positive net cash flow of $664 million, up 4% from a year earlier.

The retail blues offset some very good news from across the water. The European Commission on Wednesday said both the euro area and the European Union had emerged from recession during the second quarter, with gross domestic product growth of 0.3%. GDP growth rates for the two areas improved from -0.3% and -0.1%, respectively, during the first quarter.

The most notable improvement among eurozone nations was seen in Portugal, with GDP growing by 1.1% during the second quarter, after shrinking 0.4% during the first quarter.

Germany's GDP grew by 0.7% during the second quarter, following a GDP during the first quarter. France saw GDP growth of 0.5% during the second quarter, improving from -0.2% the previous quarter. Italy remained in recession, with GDP declining by 0.2% in the second quarter, which was an improvement from a decline of 0.6% during the first quarter.

The United Kingdom saw second-quarter GDP growth of 0.6%, improving from 0.3% in the first quarter.

"Germany and France will be key to continued overall Euro Area growth, but the peripheral countries are still struggling mightily and the recession continues for many in the region," BMO Capital Markets chief economist Benjamin Reitzes wrote in note to clients Wednesday morning. Indeed, while positive growth is anticipated in the second half of this year, any expansion will likely remain [lackluster] as the Euro Area continues to deal with a debt overhang and structural economic reform," he added.

The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was flat, closing at 65.36, with winners and losers evenly split.

A Nice Texas Deal

Cullen/Frost late on Tuesday announced a deal to acquire the closely held WNB Bancshares of Odessa, Texas, for $220 million. WNB Bancshares is the holding company for Western National Bank, and had $1.4 billion in total assets and $1.2 billion in total deposits as of June 30. The acquiring bank had $22.6 billion in total assets as of June 30.
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