Financial stocks declined modestly in trading on Wednesday morning, reflecting a mixed bag of news about the health of the sector and the broader economy.
The NYSE Financial Sector index fell 0.3% to 6,365.04, while the KBW Bank Index rose 0.9% to 68.54. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
fluctuated between gains and losses as investors digested better-than-expected data on factory orders and awaited automakers' reports of August sales, which many expect to be weak.
Financial-services companies with ties to the commodities sector faced downbeat news as oil prices dropped below $108 a barrel. Ospraie Management, a hedge fund with significant commodities holdings, said Tuesday it plans to shutter its flagship fund because of major trading losses as prices for energy and other resources dropped sharply.
, which operates the New York and Chicago mercantile exchanges, said average daily volume plunged more than 30% in August.
CME shares rose 1.9% to $344.80 after the exchange operator said it plans to partner with Japan's Osaka Securities Exchange to develop new products.
shares were down 23 cents to $78.27 after the bank became the latest name to surface in reports about potential bidders for
( LEH), whose shares rose 3 cents to $16.16. A South Korean newspaper reported Wednesday that HSBC, an unnamed Chinese bank and some hedge funds are considering buying stakes in the troubled investment bank.
Korea Development Bank
also is considering a deal to buy a stake in Lehman along with other South Korean banks.
shares fell 2.5% to $11.40 after the bank said it might post $100 million more worth of charge-offs this year than it initially predicted.
( ABK) ralliedmore than 25% on news that it received approval from a Wisconsin regulator to revive its Connie Lee Insurance subsidiary. Ambac shares have pared their gains somewhat and were up more than 21% at $8.54.
( TSFG) shares rose 45 cents, or 6.4%, to $7.45, despite a downgrade by a Morgan Keegan analyst. The regional bank said Tuesday afternoon that its president and chief executive, Mack Whittle, plans to retire but will remain on the board through 2011.