(Updated with final stock price moves throughout, adds note on Citigroup's $2.5 billion sale of notes.)
NEW YORK (
) -- Financial stocks finished mostly higher Wednesday, with
among the top performers after reports the bank would unload several consumer finance businesses.
that the bank plans to sell 20 businesses in the consumer finance area. Many of the businesses are located in Europe, the report said.
Rochdale Securities analyst Richard Bove said the sale of the bank's consumer units is a positive and shows Citigroup is continuing to pursue its liquidation strategy.
"To the degree that the bank can divest itself of these operations, it will reduce its loan loss provision and its borrowing costs," Bove wrote in a research note. "If the divisions cannot be sold they will simply be shut down and liquidated. In either case it will be a positive event for the company."
In the final hour of trading,
reported that Citigroup sold $2.5 billion in five-year non-guaranteed notes, citing a market source familiar with the sale.
Citigroup shares climbed 33 cents, or 10.2%, to close at $3.58. Among other winning bank stocks Wednesday,
Bank of America
finished up 6.5% to $16.66, and
rose 5.7% to $28.02.
In other bank news,
launched a cash tender offer for up to $3.4 billion in trust preferred securities. Independent research group CreditSights said that due to the lack of liquidity and low coupon payment, many investors should accept the tender offer.
Additionally, CreditSights estimated that JPMorgan could book a gain of up to $1.3 billion from the tender (or 21 cents a share after taxes). JPMorgan shares added $1.57, or 3.9%, to end the day at $41.78.
American International Group
was the largest percentage gainer, up 62.7%, two days ahead of its scheduled second-quarter earnings report. The surge in the insurer's stock was attributed to expectations AIG will show stabilization when it reports results Friday.
Additionally, investors have cheered AIG's announcement that former
chief Robert Benmosche will take over the reins starting Aug. 10. AIG finished up $8.48 to $22.
, meanwhile, was trading higher despite a separate research note from Bove that argued the firm is facing two "major" competitive threats.
"The rise of powerful investment banking firms in China is one," Bove wrote. "The ability to trade freely in the U.S. is the other. Goldman indicates that it is getting a portion of the economics of the deals that are being introduced in China. However, it is no longer routinely being selected as the lead underwriter."
disclosed in a regulatory filing Wednesday it "has received inquiries from various governmental agencies and self-regulatory organizations" regarding its pay practices, and also regarding credit derivatives."
Goldman shares rose $3.47, or 2.1%, to $168.64. Chief rival
finished higher by 3.3% to $31.05.
On the earnings front, insurance broker
Marsh & McLennan
posted second-quarter earnings, excluding a hefty impairment charge, of 33 cents a share, a penny better than estimates. Revenue in the quarter slumped 13.3% from a year ago to $2.63 billion, shy of the $2.76 billion consensus. Still, shares added $1.16, or 5.4%, to $22.66.
is close to hiring former
executive Bob McCann as head of the bank's wealth management business in the Americas, according to a report in
The Financial Times
The report said UBS's talks to hire McCann accelerated after an agreement last week was reached between the Swiss and U.S. governments to get the names of thousands of wealthy Americans suspected of evading taxes by hiding billions of dollars with UBS. Shares of the Swiss bank were up 31 cents, or 2.2%, to close at $14.60.