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Student lenders had a good day Thursday as

First Marblehead


skyrocketed on an upgrade and

Sallie Mae

(SLM) - Get SLM Corp Report

got a boost after its CEO said it would continue to make federally guaranteed loans.

An equity analyst that had been bearish on First Marblehead changed his mind and upgraded the company to market perform from underperform. The analyst also suggested that it could be an attractive takeover target. Investors were buoyed by the comments and pushed the stock up 93 cents to $3.91.

Sallie Mae also moved up $1 to $23 after CEO Albert Lord made comments that the government's assistance plan was "hopeful." Investors had been concerned that the company could leave the arena of providing federally guaranteed loans to students, as many other lenders have.

Overall, the


Financial Sector Index advanced 66.55 to 7,385.94.

Another big winner on the day was home lender


( IMB), which jumped 16.7% on little news.

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did note that short interest on the stock had recently dropped, a positive indicator for the company. Shares of the mortgage bank climbed 29 cents to $2.03, well off the stock's 52-week high of $37.50.

Sovereign Bancorp

( SOV) climbed 8.4% after being upgraded by an analyst from sell to hold based on valuation. Sovereign has dropped 26% in value over the year, but was climbing back 68 cents to $8.78 on Thursday. The same analyst also upgraded

Capital One

(COF) - Get Capital One Financial Corporation Report

and raised the price target to $50. The stock moved up 2% to $48.92.


(MCO) - Get Moody's Corporation (MCO) Report

continued its losing ways as it slid another 6.5% after a senior Democrat suggested that the Securities and Exchange Commission should investigate the computer error that led the bond rating agency incorrectly rating credit derivative products.

The Financial Times

on Wednesday reported that Moody's wrongly assigned triple-A ratings to complex European debt products called constant proportion debt obligations, or CPDOs. The stock plunged $2.40 to $34.51.

And finally,

Lehman Brothers

( LEH) declined 2.7% to $38.50 after an analyst voiced concerns that the investment bank could suffer huge losses due to some hedge trades that are working against it. In addition to that, a fund manager that shorts the stock suggested it hadn't written down enough bad assets and should raise large amounts of capital.