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) -- Financial stocks rallied Tuesday on positive economic data.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR

(XLF) - Get Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund Report

, a widely-followed exchange traded fund that tracks financial services stocks was up 20 cents, to $14.23.

The biggest winner this afternoon was

M&T Bank

(MTB) - Get M&T Bank Corporation Report

. The regional bank's stock was up $4.14, to $89.59, on rumors that it was in merger discussions with

Banco Santander

(BSBR) - Get Banco Santander Brasil SA American Depositary Shares each representing one unit Report




(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report

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stock was up four cents to $3.90 after a

judge said she wasn't ready to approve Citi's $75 million settlement with the SEC for allegedly failing to disclose $40 billion in subprime-related holdings to shareholders.

The PMI Group's

( PMI) shares were up 16%, to $3.01, after John Paulson disclosed that he added a stake in the company.

Losers of the day include

Fannie Mae



Freddie Mac


. Fannie Mae was down 1.7%, to 36 cents a share, while Freddie Mac was down 2.13%, to 39 cents a share, as the

debate raged over the future of the government's role in housing markets.

It was also a bad day for

Hallmark Financial

(HALL) - Get Hallmark Financial Services Inc. Report

. Shares were down 59 cents, to $8.89, after a research note said that underwriting results were responsible for an operating loss for the insurer last quarter.


Written by Maria Woehr in New York