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Financial stocks climbed higher Monday, carried by a broader market rally on the plummeting crude oil futures.


(CNO) - Get CNO Financial Group, Inc. Report

was among the biggest movers, as the Carmel Ind.-based insurer's shares jumped on the transfer of a company to an independent trust as the financial stocks moved up modestly.

Conseco said it would shift its Senior Health Insurance Co. to an independent trust named the Senior Health Care Oversight Trust. The transaction includes all of the stock in the company and is dependent upon the approval of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, which is expected in the fourth quarter. The stock shot up 8.1% to $9.30.

Futures exchange company

Intercontinental Exchange

(ICE) - Get Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. Report

initially shed 3% of its value as

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Report


Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Morgan Stanley Report

announced they were taking minority stakes in the Dubai Mercantile Exchange. The investment banks have been big supporters of InterContinental, which is known for its oil contracts. The Dubai Exchange is trying to establish itself as a force in the Middle Eastern markets. Goldman shares were climbing 3.3% to $181.80 and Morgan Stanley was jumping 2% to $45.95. InterContinental was losing 60 cents to $86.42.


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Financial Sector Index ticked up a modest 134.34 to 6,670.43.

On the slip side,

Freddie Mac

( FRE) shares plunged as Standard & Poor's cut its debt and preferred stock ratings. S&P cited capital concerns and high credit losses as the reason for the downgrade. S&P also lowered its risk-to-the-government rating on sister government-sponsored mortgage giant

Fannie Mae

( FNM). Fannie plans to sell $1 billion of three month bills on Wednesday in a Dutch auction. Freddie shares dropped 2.7% to $5.74 and Fannie fell 4.5% to $8.64.

National City

( NCC) shares fell after is reported by

The Wall Street Journal

reported it was the subject of an "informal" investigation by the

Securities Exchange Commission

. Citing regulatory filings, the SEC requested the bank to provide certain documents with regards to the sale of First Franklin Financial in 2006. The stock pulled back more than 6% in trading earlier on Monday, but more recently was down just fractionally to $5.11.

American International Group

(AIG) - Get American International Group, Inc. Report

also started the day sliding, but more recently was down fractionally to $24.67. Former CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg told


that he only expects a mild recovery in the housing sector and that it wouldn't occur until the middle of next year. He is concerned that even regular mortgages will begin to suffer.