Updated with stock price moves
NEW YORK (
Bank of America
was among the best performers of the financial sector Thursday following an upgrade of the bank's stock.
shares climbed 4.3% after Credit Suisse analysts upgraded the stock to outperform from neutral, raising the stock price target to $21 from $17. The firm said Bank of America, along with
, are its top picks among large-cap banks
"For 2010 we see U.S. financials overall as still cheap," Credit Suisse analysts wrote in a research note. "The key catalyst for the banks will be the end of loan loss reserve builds, and the eventual release of a portion of those reserves, which we project will be a big driver of
earnings per share growth in 2011/2012."
While Credit Suisse said it expects book value growth of 13% for large banks in 2010, it expects book value to fall 3% for regional banks.
Fifth Third Bancorp
is the firm's top pick among the regionals.
Bank of America added 4.3% to $17.10, JPMorgan shares were up 2.6% to $45.06, and Fifth Third gained 6.7% to $11.15.
Most other bank stocks were higher.
gained 4.3% to $29.33,
rose 2.3% to $33.19,
climbed 2.1% to $177.89, and
tacked on 1.1% to $3.68.
Credit Suisse also upgraded
to neutral from underperform, citing valuation. However, the firm lowered its price target to $52 from $57. Chubb shares were up 3% to $49.55.
Among other analyst moves, Wells Fargo downgraded
to market perform from outperform on valuation. On the other hand, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods upgraded
Allied Irish Banks
to market perform from underperform, arguing that the risk/reward is more balanced after the stock's recent underperformance.
MasterCard shares fell 0.7% to $253.73, while rival
tacked on 0.7% to $86.54. Allied Irish Banks rallied 6.3% to $4.87, and fellow Irish bank
Bank of Ireland
gained 3.6% to $10.
Elsewhere, online brokers traded mixed after
said it would cut trade commissions. Beginning Jan. 19, investors who hold less than $1 million in household assets at Schwab or who traded fewer than 120 times per year will pay $8.95 per online trade in stocks or non-Schwab exchange traded plus charges for trades larger than 1000 shares, down from $12.95.
Schwab shares fell 0.7% to $19.23, and
lost 3.6% to $18.85.
bucked the trend and was up 1.1% to $1.81.
-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston
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