Updated from 2:14 p.m. EDT
The financial sector spent much of the morning in positive territory Thursday amid M&A news, though it lagged behind the
along with the two other major indices.
( AGE) was among the takeouts, vaulting 14.3% to $88.16 after
pick it up
for some $89.50 per share in cash and stock -- a 16% premium to the St. Louis broker's latest close. Wachovia slipped 0.7% to $54.19.
Other brokers rode high on A.G. Edwards' coattails in heavy trading, among them
Raymond James Financial
, up 7.3% to $33.31;
, up 8% to $60.21; and
up 4.9% at $153.54.
Also among the climbing brokers was
, on the heels of two announcements. The New York firm acquired LongAcre Parters, an M&A advisor in the European media and online sector, for an undisclosed sum. Jefferies also said chief financial officer Joseph Schenk will retire by year-end. Its shares jumped 4.7% to $30.64.
Fidelity National Financial
agreed to buy
jointly with private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners for $5.3 billion in cash, or $36 a share. Fidelity gained 47 cents, or 1.7%, to $28.04; Ceridian added 3.5% to $35.37.
Among the day's financial losers, however, was health-insurer and managed-care provider
. Chief Financial Officer David Colby resigned under pressure from both the current and incoming CEOs, as well as from the company board, having "violated the company's code of conduct." WellPoint added that his actions weren't illegal and were of a "non-business nature," so it provided no further details. Wayne DeVeydt has replaced Colby. Shares were off 3.5% to $81.41.
Also on the downswing today were financial-services firm
, credit-ratings outfit
. All lost at least 2.5%.
More broadly, the
Financial Sector Index added 0.05% to 9933.90. The KBW Bank Index dipped 0.3% to 117.04.