Updated from 2:13 p.m. EDT

Most financial stocks traded lower Wednesday, averaging a notch below the slipping broader market, despite several pieces of good news out of the sector.

One of the biggest financial winners was


( ESPD), which was climbing 1.9% earlier in the day and closed up 0.4%, or 4 cents, to $9.23 in unusually heavy trading after it

agreed to buy

BGC Partners from bond dealer Cantor Fitzgerald for $1.22 billion in stock. The deal values eSpeed shares at a premium of $9.75 apiece and includes the issuance of some 133.9 million new shares of the online broker.

Also higher were

Chicago Board of Trade

( BOT) and -- following a shaky start --


(ICE) - Get Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE) Report

-- after the ICE

struck a deal with the Chicago Board Options Exchange

that effectively bolsters its hostile bid for the CBOT.

Members of the CBOT will be paid $500,000 for each of their CBOE exercise rights, but only if the former agrees to merge with ICE. The settlement, worth up to $665.5 million in total, will be funded equally by ICE and CBOE.

CBOT jumped 2.4% to $197.62 in support of the


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Financial Sector Index, which was up 0.5% to 9938.49. Fellow component ICE traded up 0.7%, and the

Chicago Mercantile Exchange

(CME) - Get CME Group Inc. Class A Report

, whose

recently sweetened bid

for CBOT was backed by CBOT's board earlier this month, closed up 0.4% to $527.85.

The KBW Bank Index, a large-bank tracker, was up 0.4% to 117.42.


Apollo Investment

(AINV) - Get Apollo Investment Corporation Report

gained 3.2% to $23.22 on positive earnings news for the quarter ended March 31. Income came to $1.04 a share, or $102.8 million -- 60% higher per share than last year.


(RNR) - Get RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. Report

, a Bermuda-based insurer, rose 1.9% to $57.57 after Banc of America stamped on a new buy rating.

Interactive Brokers Group

(IBKR) - Get Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. Class A Report

was among the many trailing financial stocks, sliding 6% to $25.91 after the Connecticut firm said first-quarter income was only $12.4 million, or 31 cents a share (pro forma), compared with year-ago income of 34 cents a share.

Clayton Holdings

( CLAY), which sells mortgage-related business services, dropped after JMP Securities cut its rating to market outperform from strong buy. Shares lost 6.5% to $14.90.