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) --

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Free Report

was among the winners of the financial sector Wednesday after the bank's stock was upgraded to outperform.

Bank of America was up 1.7% after Wells Fargo raised its rating for the bank's stock to outperform from market perform, arguing that BofA shares currently trade at the deepest discount to normalized earnings-per-share level of every bank on the firm's coverage list.


The Wall Street Journal

reports that


search for a new CEO has narrowed to two internal candidates, Chief Risk Officer Gregory Curl and Brian Moynihan, BofA's consumer and small-business banking chief. The report added that the bank's board is still keeping its eyes open for a new chief outside the company.

In other bank news,


(C) - Get Free Report

is leaning toward selling its energy-trading unit Phibro to raise money and deflect political anger over a potential $100 million payout to Phibro's star trader Andrew Hall, according to a report in

The Financial Times


The decision by Citigroup to completely divest itself of the division followed debates on whether it should divest just part of the unit, open it up to outside investors or spin it off, the report notes. Citigroup shares were off 3 cents to $4.64.


Banco Santander

( STD) raised 14.1 billion reals ($8.1 billion) in the initial public offering of its Brazilian operations.

The Brazilian unit sold 600 million shares for 23.50 reals ($13.43) apiece, in what is the biggest initial public offering this year. The price was in the middle of the expected range of 22 reals to 25 reals. The stock was off nearly 3% to $13.03 in recent trades. Banco Santander shares were lately down 1.2% to $16.22.

In other bank-related news, a

Federal Reserve

presentation will show that U.S. banks are slow to take losses on their commercial real-estate loans. "Banks will be slow to recognize the severity of the loss -- just as they were in residential," according to the Fed presentation, which was reviewed by the

The Wall Street Journal


Other bank stocks were trading mixed Wednesday.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Free Report

slipped 0.2% to $44.84, while

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Free Report

rose 0.5% to $28.80 and

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Free Report

shares were higher by 1.1% at $189.03.

Away from banks,

Verisk Analytics

(VRSK) - Get Free Report

, an insurance risk specialist, made a strong trading debut Wednesday after raising $1.88 billion in an initial public offering. The stock surged more than 20% to $27.10 in recent trades.

The company sold about 85.3 million shares for $22 a share on Tuesday. Verisk originally intended to price its shares between $19 and $21 a share.

American International Group

(AIG) - Get Free Report


Hartford Financial

(HIG) - Get Free Report


Travelers Companies

(TRV) - Get Free Report

own stakes in Verisk and will receive some of the proceeds.C

-- Written by Robert Holmes in New York