Thursday's Financial Winners & Losers

Unum trades higher after beating analysts' first-quarter earnings estimates by a nickel a share.
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Updated from 1:14 p.m. EDT

Financial stocks aligned with the slightly higher broader market Thursday after a morning of choppy trading in largely negative territory.

Tennessee-based insurer

Unum Group

(UNM) - Get Report

emerged as one of the bigger winners, jumping 9.7% to $27.33 after first-quarter income from continuing operations about doubled year over year to 50 cents a share, or $171.4 million, vs. analysts' estimates of 45 cents a share from Thomson Financial.

Fellow insurer

Prudential Financial

(PRU) - Get Report

, based in Newark, N.J., gained 2.9% to $99.65 after adjusted operating income came to $1.85 a share in the first quarter -- 20 cents past Street expectations.

Upbeat analyst calls lifted a few names, among them

IntercontinentalExchange

(ICE) - Get Report

. Shares added 5.9% to $134.75 on a Wachovia upgrade to outperform on the heels of Wednesday's

better-than-expected earnings

. HSBC likewise raised

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Report

to neutral from underweight a day after the credit-card company

powered past

first-quarter estimates. Shares gained 6.7% to $134.82 in recent trading.

The

NYSE

Financial Sector Index, of which all the above stocks are components, rose 33.8 points to 9,848.98. The KBW Bank Index edged higher at 117.20.

Among today's few losers was

American Equity Investment Life

(AEL) - Get Report

, which posted first-quarter income of 26 cents a share, profits that were 8 cents short of Street projections. The Iowa-based life insurer sank 7% to $12.79 in far-heavier-than-usual trading.

Ohio-based

ProCentury

(PROS) - Get Report

, another insurer, tumbled 14.6% to $18.81 on a first-quarter revenue miss. Similarly, San Francisco-based broker

Thomas Weisel Partners

(TWPG)

lost 8.7% to $18.77.