Financial stocks were mixed Friday but, on the whole, they performed slightly better than the broader market.

Tax preparer

H&R Block

(HRB) - Get Report

helped buoy the sector, leaping 3.7% to $22.64 after

agreeing to sell

its subprime lending unit, Option One Mortgage, to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

First-quarter results continued filing in as well, with

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

climbing 2.8% to $60.58 after sailing past top- and bottom-line projections. The credit-card company posted continuing-operations profits that were 25.7% higher year over year at 88 cents a share, or $1.07 billion, on revenue of $7.63 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were seeking 80 cents a share on $7.17 billion in revenue.

In other positive earnings news, Denver's

Centennial Bank

( CBHI) lifted by 4.4% to $8.59 after topping first-quarter targets by 2 cents a share, and

First Data

(FDC) - Get Report

gained slightly at $32.55 on a penny EPS beat.

Also on the rise today were

NYSE

Financial Index components

UBS

(UBS) - Get Report

, lately up 3.4% to $64.32;

IntercontinentalExchange

(ICE) - Get Report

, which added 2.8% at $133.35;

SWS Group

(SWS)

, higher by 2.5% to $27.41; and

Chicago Board of Trade

( BOT), which tacked on 2.3% to $196.79 a day after posting

better-than-expected

first-quarter financials.

Accordingly, the NYSE index was recently up by 0.7% to 9,830.35. But the KBW Bank Index, which houses a much smaller list of big financial-services firms, was dampened by poor first-quarter results from both

Capital One

(COF) - Get Report

and

Zions Bancorp

(ZION) - Get Report

. The tracker inched up only slightly to 116.96.

Virginia-based Capital One was downgraded by both Friedman Billings and S&P following a year-over-year

earnings plunge

to $1.62 a share -- a far cry from the $1.98 sought by analysts. Salt Lake City's Zions reported an earnings climb to $1.36 a share, but the consensus called for 6 cents more. Its shares recently lost 4.3% at $82.12.

Elsewhere, Lansing, Mich.-based

Capital Bancorp

( CBC) slid more than 16% on a very steep first-quarter miss: 36 cents a share vs. the 64-cent analysts' consensus forecast. Shares were tumbling $6.01 to $30.74.

Hanmi Financial

(HAFC) - Get Report

slumped considerably after saying its first-quarter bottom line could be as much as 30% lower than the prior quarter's 35 cents a share, thanks to an unexpected quadrupling (approximately) of its credit-loss provision. Analysts are only looking for a penny-a-share decline from last quarter. Shares of the Los Angeles-based bank were down $2.67, or 14%, to $16.42.

Joining the scarcer financial-sector losers today were

Countrywide Financial

( CFC), down 2.5% to $37.26; Internet broker

eSpeed

( ESPD), recently shedding 3.1% to $9.29; and broker

BlackRock

(BLK) - Get Report

, lately giving up 1.1% at $154.77.