With new signs emerging about the sluggishness spreading through the

economy

and traders steering clear of equities ahead of the House of Representatives' upcoming vote on the

bailout

proposal, financial stocks sold off Thursday.

The KBW Bank Index lost 3.2%, and the NYSE Financial Sector index fell 4.5%. The Amex Securities Broker/Dealer index was worse by 5.2%.

Insurers were particularly hard hit after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said a well-known insurance company could be near bankruptcy. His comments were later retracted.

Still, stocks in the group were hit hard.

MetLife

(MET) - Get Report

sank 15% to $40.96,

Travelers

(TRV) - Get Report

fell 6% to $40.47, and

Hartford

(HIG) - Get Report

plunged 32% to $25.91.

Among banks,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

lost 2.2%, and

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

shed 4.6%.

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

and

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

were also weaker.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

avoided the selloff, tacking on 1.2%.

Wachovia

(WB) - Get Report

, whose banking operations are being sold to JPMorgan, advanced 10% to $3.91.

BB&T

(BBT) - Get Report

and

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

surrendered more than 4%.

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.com.