Updated from 1:23 p.m. EDT
Financial stocks lifted higher than the flat-lining broader market Wednesday despite a confluence of poor earnings from a number of companies.
Helping to keep things afloat was Houston's
, which gained 3.7% to $31.92 after first-quarter earnings shot up to $96.7 million, or 83 cents a share, from 68 cents a share last year. This beats estimates by 6 cents, according to Thomson Financial.
( OXPS) also spiked on word it saw a 24% year-over-year surge in customer accounts and client assets as of the end of April. Daily avenue revenue trades added 2% from last year and 8% sequentially. Shares of the Chicago-based company rose 2.7% to $24.36.
Also doing fairly well were Swiss banks
UBS tacked on 0.9% to $63.24 after agreeing to buy half of Northern Star Generation, a power-generation outfit, from an
American International Group
fund. AIG lately gained 0.4% to $72. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch upgraded Credit Suisse to buy from neutral, boosting its shares by 1% at $76.62.
Financial Sector Index, of which all but one of the above are components, climbed 51.6 points, or 0.4%, to 9920.77. The KBW Bank Index recently added 0.7% to 118.17.
Weighing down the sector, however, were names like
( CCRT), which slid 9.3% after swinging to a managed loss of $9.5 million, or 19 cents a share, in the first quarter -- a far cry from the 21-cent-per-share profit sought by analysts. The Atlanta-based lender's shares lost $3.57 to $34.75.
CompuCredit was cut to underperform by Wachovia on the news, and other stocks were likewise hurting from negative analyst calls. Broker
and savings bank
Provident Financial Services
both fell at least 1.5% after suffering a mutual downgrade to market perform from outperform, respectively by Keefe Bruyette and Friedman Billings.
Back in earnings news,
plunged 11.9% to $23.10 after the Dallas-based broker saw a drop of 4 cents a share in fiscal third-quarter continuing-operations earnings from last year to 28 cents a share. The analyst who follows the company was seeking 35 cents a share.
Wall Street's $1.19-a-share earnings projections by 2 cents in the quarter ended March 31, but shares of the asset management firm pulled back 2.7% to $103 following a slight Tuesday run-up.
, an Alabama-based insurer, also topped Wall Street earnings estimates by 2 cents a share, but was just shy of two analysts' first-quarter revenue estimates. Shares gave back 1.4% to $54.76.
And Indiana insurer
saw heavy trading after posting a steep drop in first-quarter profits that widely missed Street expectations, while simultaneously announcing it added $200 million to its stock repurchase program, for a total of $350 million. Shares began lower but closed up 15 cents at $17.94.