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

HCC Insurance

(HCC) - Get Report

, 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.

Online broker

optionsXpress

( 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

(UBS) - Get Report

and

Credit Suisse

(CS) - Get Report

.

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

(AIG) - Get Report

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.

The

NYSE

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

CompuCredit

( 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

Jeffries

(JEF) - Get Report

and savings bank

Provident Financial Services

(PFS) - Get Report

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,

SWS Group

(SWS)

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.

Baltimore-based

Legg Mason

(LM) - Get Report

beat

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.

ProAssurance

(PRA) - Get Report

, 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

Conseco

(CNO) - Get Report

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.