(Updated with Geithner testimony, closing stock prices)
NEW YORK (
-- Financial stocks took a positive turn following Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's testimony before the Congressional Oversight Panel on TARP.
refused to give any numbers around the toxic assets that banks still hold, but maintained an upbeat tone on the banking sector. His continued positive remarks pushed the mixed financial stocks firmly into green territory.
Bank of America
were among the most actively traded of the financial stocks with Citi responding well to the Geithner comments closing up 6 cents to $4.72 and BofA adding 18 cents to $17.22. Fellow big bank
also tacked on 16 cents to close at $43.02 and
finished the day up $4.60, or 2.7%, to $174.87
The NYSE Financial Sector index ended up 47.97 at 4,824.27. The KBW Bank index closed up slightly to 45.95.
was the biggest winner of the early trading session as it was added to Goldman's "conviction buy list." Goldman raised Blackstone's price target and based its positive comments on an improving M&A cycle. It was a double boost for Blackstone as
gave the asset manager an upgrade on Wednesday as well. The stock jumped 4% to $13.50.
Barclays analyst Roger Freeman also upgraded
Fortress Investment Group
. "Our preference for the alternative managers is a function of discounted valuations relative to the traditional managers (even adjusted for lower fair value multiples applied to performance fees), a higher upward earnings bias over the next couple of years from meaningful performance fees coming back into the earnings stream due to stronger-than expected year-to-date performance, and renewed inflows following the cessation of the redemption cycle," he wrote. Fortress added 12 cents to end the day at $5.44.
closed up two cents at $4.09 after Keefe, Bruyette & Woods raised its estimates for the bank. Huntington had announced on Wednesday that it was commencing with a $150 million discretionary equity issuance program, which KBW took as a positive event.
Investors are feeling as if the worst is over for online broker
, as the stock gained five cents, or 3%, to $1.71. CEO DOn Layton said on Wednesday that he would be stepping down as planned, leading some market watchers to suggest a buyout on the horizon. With almost a third of the shares being shorted, any rally will cause heavy short covering.
shares were up 8% in early trading but closed the day up 42 cents, or 4%, to $10.76 after the company said its outlook for mortgage insurance is attractive. "We are encouraged by some of the dynamics in the mortgage insurance market," said CFO Patrick Kelleher said at a meeting held in New York by KBW.
American International Group
dropped $1.04 to close at $37.85 after former CEO Hank Greenberg said there was hardly any value in the company since the government owned 80%, in a
interview late Wednesday. The government's strict limitations were preventing the company from paying back taxpayer money, he said.
Written by Debra Borchardt in New York