Financial stocks leapt higher than the broad market ahead of this afternoon's Federal Reserve meeting Tuesday after skimming negative territory for most of the morning.

RAM Reinsurance ( RAMR) was a big winner after CEO Vernon Endo announced that "contrary to a story that was issued in the press," the Bermuda-based firm continues to have access to its $50 million "soft capital" facility. He also said that RAM is not currently trying to raise more capital. Shares soared 24.3% to $7.98 to take back some of Monday's huge losses.

Evercore Partners ( EVR), a New York asset manager, posted adjusted pro forma income of $15.5 million, or 47 cents a share, nearly doubling last year's earnings and powering past Thomson Financial's estimate of 36 cents a share. Evercore also upped its quarterly dividend by 20% to 12 cents a share. Its stock jumped $1.16, or 5.8%, to $21.16.

Elsewhere, Roth Capital raised IndyMac Bancorp's ( IMB) rating to hold from sell on valuation, boosting shares by as much as 13% but lately up 1% at $19.76. Memphis-based First Horizon National ( FHN) climbed 8.6% on a Friedman Billings upgrade to market perform from underperform but was recently up 3.7% at $31.16.

In more brokerage-spurred action, Assurant ( AIZ) added 4.5% after Merrill Lynch raised the stock to buy. The analyst, who set a $64 price target, predicted that the subprime-mortgage fallout will help bring in more policies for Assurant's sizable homeowners-insurance unit. Shares of the New York-based company were trading at $50.88.

All but one of the above stocks gave legs to the NYSE Financial Sector Index, which was recently spiking 67 points, or 0.7%, to 9,136.14. The KBW Bank Index performed even better, lately jumping 0.9% at 108.31.

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