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) --


(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report

was among the top performers of the financial sector Wednesday after the bank announced plans to sell hedge fund assets as part of its goal to bring down its balance sheet.


Citi Alternative Investments unit has reached a deal to sell a number of hedge fund-related businesses to New York-based SkyBridge Capital. The transaction involves assets totaling $4.2 billion, although financial terms were not disclosed.

Citigroup shares were lately jumping 24 cents, or 5.1%, to $4.86.


JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report

became the first of the major U.S. banks to report quarterly results. The bank posted a better-than-expected profit of 74 cents a share in the first quarter, above the consensus target of 54 cents a share. Revenue was up 4.6% to $28.17 billion, also above consensus.

Among JPMorgan's credit metrics, the provision for credit losses fell by 30% from a year ago to $7 billion, while Tier 1 Capital ratios rose to 11.5%, an increase from the year-ago and sequential quarters. The investment bank unit posted revenue of $8.32 billion for the latest three months with $5.5 billion of that attributed to its fixed income markets activities.

JPMorgan shares were lately up 3.4% to $47.42.

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Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report

has informed investors in its $8.8 billion real estate fund that it may lose nearly $5.4 billion from bum property investments, the biggest dollar loss in the history of private-equity real-estate investing,

The Wall Street Journal

reports, citing fund documents.

The losses stem from investments in properties such as the European Central Bank's Frankfurt headquarters, a big development project in Tokyo and InterContinental hotels across Europe, among others, the newspaper says.

Despite the report, Morgan Stanley was lately up 2.6% to $31.26.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report

shares also gained ground. The bank named outsider Charles Noski as chief financial officer effective May 11. Noski fills a financial chief slot that has been empty for months and was previously held by Joseph Price, now president of consumer, small-business and card banking.

Previously, Noski was financial chief of

Northrop Grumman

(NOC) - Get Northrop Grumman Corporation Report

and board vice chairman and CFO of


(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report


Bank of America shares were up 3.5% to $19.33.

In other earnings news,


(PGR) - Get Progressive Corporation Report

posted a first-quarter profit of 44 cents a share, which was above the Thomson Reuters average estimate of 39 cents a share. Revenue of $3.78 billion was up 7.2% from a year ago and better than Wall Street's forecast of $3.69 billion. Shares were rising 6.3% to $20.69.

Meanwhile, mortgage insurers were trading higher after Keefe Bruyette & Woods analysts increased price targets on several names ahead of first-quarter earnings results, citing "positive market and regulatory trends, enough to materially increase valuations."

Among the price target changes, KBW analysts raised

Old Republic International

(ORI) - Get Old Republic International Corporation Report

to $14 from $11,

MGIC Investment

(MTG) - Get MGIC Investment Corporation Report

to $12 from $7,

The PMI Group

( PMI) to $6 from $3, and

Radian Group

(RDN) - Get Radian Group Inc. Report

to $18 from $9.

Old Republic shares were up 4.9%, MGIC gained 5.3%, PMI was higher by 0.4% and Radian shares rallied 9%.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston


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