Updated from 2:33 p.m. EDT

Financial stocks were mired far under the wobbly broad indices Wednesday, as the

recent tribulations of

American Home Mortgage

( AHM) continued to bog down the sector's mood.

Shares of AHM recovered marginally from yesterday's roughly 90% nosedive, rising 42.3%, but other names, such as

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Mastercard Inc. (MA) Report

, were hit hard regardless of positive news.

The credit-card issuer

plunged 6.7% in heavy trading despite topping Wall Street's expectations with second-quarter income of $1.43 a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had sought only $1.33 a share, but MasterCard stock closed down $10.80 to $150.

San Francisco broker

Thomas Weisel Partners

( TWPG) posted non-GAAP earnings of $7.7 million, or 29 cents a share, to smash earnings estimates. Credit-ratings firm

Moody's

(MCO) - Get Moody's Corporation (MCO) Report

likewise came in ahead while authorizing a $2 billion share-repurchase program. Still, Thomas Weisel lost 7.8%, and Moody's traded in the red before rising 3% to close at $55.39.

Advance America Cash Advance Centers

( AEA), of Spartanburg, S.C., plummeted nearly 19.3% to $11.84 after a Pennsylvania court ordered the lender to "suspend its current operations and to discontinue its 'Choice Line of Credit'" in that state, concluding a lawsuit brought by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking regarding certain regulatory infractions. The company says it will appeal and that it "has no plans to shut down its centers in Pennsylvania."

In brokerage research,

Crystal River Capital

( CRZ) shares fell 16.2% after A.G. Edwards cut the mortgage-investment firm to hold from buy, primarily citing the shaky state of the mortgage-lending market. JPMorgan Chase lowered student lender

First Marblehead

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to neutral from overweight; First Marblehead closed up 1.6% at $33.48.

Elsewhere,

Blackstone

(BX) - Get Blackstone Group Inc. Class A Report

rose 30 cents to $24.31 after five analysts began coverage of the newly public asset manager with positive ratings (while Wachovia, the anomaly, granted a rating of market perform). New York asset manager

Fortress Investment

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gave up 5.5% to $17.93 despite a new buy rating courtesy of Deutsche Securities.

The

NYSE

Financial Sector Index, which tracks most of the above stocks, fell 24.19 points, or 0.3%, to 9008.35. The KBW Bank Index rose 0.7% to 105.80.

Among the few lucky players today was

Pacific Capital Bancorp

(PCBC)

, which vaulted 8.6% to $22.70 after second-quarter income ballooned year over year to $21 million, or 44 cents a share excluding items. The Street had expected 30 cents a share. The Santa Barbara, Calif., company also said it will repurchase up to $25 million of its shares to replace its old buyback program.

Insurer

Aon

( AOC) strolled past the mean second-quarter earnings estimate and announced that it's currently preparing to spin off its Combined Insurance Company of America unit while not ruling out expected "inquiries from potential buyers." Shares climbed $1.95, or 4.9%, to $41.99.

Another insurer,

American Financial Group

(AFG) - Get American Financial Group, Inc. Report

, beat Wall Street estimates by a dime with core operating income of 93 cents a share, and asset manager

Lazard

(LAZ) - Get Lazard Ltd Class A Report

also turned in an easy EPS beat. Shares of the firms added 10.2% to $30.96 and 7.9% to $39.96, respectively.