Hilb Rogal & Hobbs ( HRH) was among few financial-sector winners Tuesday, rising on an upgrade by Stifel Nicolaus to buy from hold. Shares of the Virginia-based insurance broker were up 61 cents, or 1.3%, to $46.30. Financial stocks were largely sliding otherwise in furious trading Tuesday, caught in a larger selloff that pushed the major indices deeply into the red. Credit-services firm Moody's ( MCO) was losing $4.24, or 6.7%, to $59.33; savings bank Washington Mutual ( WM) was down $2.15, or 5.1%, to $39.75; and broker Friedman Billings ( FBR) was plunging 72 cents, or 13%, to $4.82. Citigroup ( C) slipped after the banking behemoth
sweetened its buyout offer for Japanese broker Nikko Cordial by roughly 25% to $14.59 a share (1,700 yen). Nikko's biggest shareholders rejected last week's initial bid. Citigroup currently owns a 4.9% stake in the company. Shares were easing by $1.39, or 2.8%, to $48.97. Nymex ( NMX) was lower after a number of its shareholders, including General Atlantic, filed to sell 7 million company shares. The offering, which was filed pursuant to a February shelf registration, includes an underwriters' option for another 1.1 million shares. Nymex stock was down $1.97, or 1.5%, to $126.43. Finally, the New York Stock Exchange decided to delist subprime lender New Century Financial ( NEW) and, like clockwork, the rest of the sector plummeted. Accredited Home Lenders ( LEND) once again took the worst beating, losing $4.24, or 62.8%, to $7.16. Fieldstone Investment ( FICC) plunged $1.20, or 34.9%, to $2.24, and NovaStar Financial ( NFI) was down another 87 cents, or 20.5%, to $3.37.