Financial stocks largely crowned the climbing broader market on Wednesday, and one of the biggest winners was XL Capital ( XL). The Bermuda-based insurer jumped 6.7% to $78.70 after trouncing first-quarter estimates, reporting income of $543.4 million, or $3.03 a share (excluding items), vs. Wall Street's $2.13-per-share estimates, as per Thomson Financial. Another Bermudian insurer, Ace ( ACE), rose 3.7% to $60.86 after handily topping bottom-line expectations. The NYSE Financial Sector Index, of which XL is a component, was recently leaping 87.71 points, or 0.9%, to 9843.75. The KBW Bank Index climbed 0.7% to 116.61. Dime Community Bancshares ( DCOM), of Brooklyn, N.Y., gained 6% to $13.65 after edging out first-quarter targets with 17-cent-per-share earnings, and Ameriprise Financial ( AMP) added 1.8% to $60.93 after the asset manager reported adjusted income of $220 million, or 90 cents a share. This is 20% higher than last year and beats estimates by 2 cents. Elsewhere in positive-earnings territory, New York Community Bancorp ( NYB) added 0.5% to $17.75 after meeting first-quarter operating-earnings estimates; credit-rating agency Moody's ( MCO) was up 0.9% to $68.57 on a 4-cent-per-share beat. Meanwhile, Dutch bank ABN Amro ( ABN) -- which had lost value on the NYSE since Britain's Barclays ( BCS) agreed to buy it on Monday -- more than recovered after receiving a rival bid of $52.96 a share from a group lead by the Royal Bank of Scotland. Shares were up $2.28, or 4.8%, to $49.68.
California's Desert Community Bank ( DCBK) saw a huge trading-volume spike and surged 20% after East West Bancorp ( EWBC) agreed to buy it in a cash-and-stock deal worth $24 a share, or about $142.6 million, that should close by the third quarter. Desert Community Bank was up $3.85 to $23.15; East West was recently up 0.5% to $40.16. Credit-services firm Asset Acceptance Capital ( AACC) soared 14.6% after announcing a $75 million share-repurchase program and a one-off dividend worth at least $75 million, and Cleveland-based National City ( NCC) added another $1.6 billion to its buyback program. The bank was rising 59 cents, or 1.6%, to $37.86. First Marblehead ( FMD) also announced a buyback plan for 10 million of its shares (including about 3.4 million previously authorized), but the student lender's stock quickly dropped off after an initial spike out of the gate this morning. Shares lately were sinking 3.9% to $35.86. Other financial-sector losers today include insurance broker Arthur J. Gallagher ( AJG), which was off 3.6% to $27.94 after recording first-quarter gains of only $19.8 million, or 20 cents a share -- 6 cents short of targets. Waddell & Reed Financial ( WDR) slid 4.1% to $24.09 after missing per-share projections by a penny, and Hilb Rogal & Hobbs ( HRH), an insurance broker, plunged 8.1% after first-quarter profits retreated 2.7% year over year to $25.2 million, or 69 cents a share. Shares recently lost $3.99 to $45.01.