(Updated with final stock price moves throughout.)



) --

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

was one of the top performers of the financial sector Tuesday after an analyst upgrade boosted shares.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Sanjay Sakhrani upgraded AmEx shares to outperform from market perform and increased his stock price target to $37 from $33. The upgrade follows the release of AmEx's July monthly data, which showed yet another sequential improvement. On Monday, the company said


fell to 9.2% in July from 9.9% in June.

Sakhrani also raised his 2010 estimates for AmEx to $2.12 a share from $1.76, although he cut his 2009 full-year estimate to $1 a share from $1.08. Still, AmEx shares finished higher by $1.30, or 4.3%, to $31.69.

Separately, KBW analyst Jefferson Harralson raised his earnings estimates and stock price target for


(BBT) - Get Report

following the bank's deal for

Colonial Bank's


Harralson applauded the bank's management for being patient in the M&A arena "and then parlaying its strength in the cycle into a beneficial deal for shareholders." He raised his 2009 target for BB&T's earnings to $1.16 a share from $1.09, and he upped his 2010 target to $2.50 a share from $2.25. Harralson also increased his stock price target to $28 from $23.

Meanwhile, FBR Capital Markets analyst Paul Miller also raised his 2009 and 2010 earnings-per-share estimates for BB&T, as he views the transaction for Colonial's assets as a long-term positive. Miller upped his 2009 and 2010 estimates to $1 and $1.30 a share from 95 cents and $1.10 a share, respectively, while maintaining his $22 price target and market perform rating

"We believe the full benefits of the transaction will be felt down the road rather than in the near term," Miller wrote, adding that Colonial's branches strategically enhance BB&T's market share in the southeast, while giving BB&T exposure to high-growth markets including Florida and Texas.

BB&T shares ended the day up $1.17, or 4.4%, to $27.60.

In other financial news,

CIT Group

(CIT) - Get Report

said in a regulatory filing it had a net loss of $1.62 billion, or $4.30 a share, in the second quarter, worse than the $1.95-a-share loss analysts expected. Provisions for credit losses rose to $588.5 million from $152.2 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

Additionally, CIT said there is still "substantial doubt" about its ability to continue as a going concern. Still, CIT shares tacked on 4 cents, or 2.9%, to close at $1.40.


American International Group

(AIG) - Get Report

said late Monday that it will pay newly-appointed Chief Executive Robert Benmosche an annual salary of $7 million.

In a regulatory filing, AIG said Benmosche's salary would consist of $3 million in cash and $4 million in fully-vested common stock. He will also be eligible for a performance bonus of up to $3.5 million, according to the filing. Benmosche took over as AIG's CEO on Aug. 10. AIG shares rose $1.13, or 4.8%, to $24.55.

Most bank stocks also finished higher, with


(C) - Get Report

leading the charge after the bank said its credit card charge-off rate slipped to 10.03% in July from 10.51% in June.

Citigroup climbed 14 cents, or 3.5%, to $4.14.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, which also saw its charge-off rate fall to 13.81% from 13.86% in June, rose 34 cents, or 2.1%, to $16.90.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

shares added 2.4%.

Among other bank stocks,

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

climbed 2.1% to $160.48,

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

was up 0.8% at $28.78, and

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

tacked on 0.2% to $26.34.