Wednesday's Financial Winners & Losers

MetLife climbs on share-buyback plans.
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Updated from 1:46 p.m. EDT

Most financial stocks stayed afloat Wednesday, cheered by assorted good news and the climbing major indices.

The

NYSE

Financial Sector Index and the KBW Bank Index added 0.4% and 0.3%, respectively, as the former was helped along by gains at

MetLife

(MET) - Get Report

. The New York-based life insurer tacked on 1.9% to $69.83 on word it will buy back up to another $1 billion of its shares as soon as it finishes repurchasing the roughly $240 million left from its current authorization.

One of the sector's biggest price gainers was

Life Partners Holdings

(LPHI) - Get Report

, which deals in the secondary life-insurance market. The Texas-based company said it made $4.3 million, or 46 cents a share, in the fiscal second quarter -- a huge leap from last year's $220,000, or 2 cents a share. Shares lately jumped 7.7% to $37.88.

Elsewhere,

Nasdaq Stock Market

I:IXIC

and Borse Dubai said they've secured 47.6% of

OMX's

shares through various means, bringing the pair closer to realizing the

three-way deal they struck last week for Nasdaq's ultimate ownership of the Nordic exchange.

Additionally, Borse Dubai has raised its total bid for OMX by some $649 million to $4.91 billion (31.97 billion Swedish kronor), with Nasdaq bumping up the cash portion of its deal to buy Borse Dubai's OMX shares by $185 million to about $1.93 billion. Borse Dubai also cut the agreement's minimum acceptance level to 50% from 90%.

Nasdaq's shares were lately up $1.26, or 3.5%, to $37.52.

In brokerage action, Credit Suisse upgraded

CIT

(CIT) - Get Report

to outperform, citing valuation and improved liquidity at the New York lender. Standard & Poor's meanwhile took

Radian

(RDN) - Get Report

off review for a downgrade. S&P said the mortgage insurer's "excellent capitalization" and "very strong liquidity" should fortify the mortgage insurer against blustery broad-market conditions.

CIT and Radian were up 4.6% and 6.5%, respectively.

But

Merrill Lynch

(MER)

shares took an afternoon hit on a

harsh negative call at Goldman Sachs, which cited a "multi-billion dollar write down" at the broker caused by "leveraged loan losses, mark to market losses on their CDO exposure, and deteriorating mortgage fundamentals."

Goldman chopped $1.80 off Merrill's third-quarter earnings estimate to just 15 cents a share and slashed its full-year target by $2.30 to $6.75. Shares of the New York broker gave up 1.1% to $71.33 in heavier-than-usual trading.

Fremont General

(FMT)

, meanwhile, plummeted 19.5% on news an investor group led by Gerald J. Ford is

seeking to exit its May agreement to invest $80 million in the troubled subprime-mortgage lender. Shares of the California-based company sank $1 to $4.13.

Sallie Mae

(SLM) - Get Report

, of Reston, Va., was also on the downswing. Kenneth Lewis, CEO of

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

-- which was part of the investment group that

agreed to take out the student lender earlier this year -- told the

Charlotte Observer

that a reassessment of the deal's $25 billion price tag is under way, given recent changes in the education-lending laws.

Sallie Mae shares were off $1.10, or 2.4%, to $45.15. BofA lately ticked up 38 cents to $50.60.