Updated from 2:18 p.m. EDTFinancial stocks were pressed lower Monday by the sinking broad market and further evidence of the credit-market crunch. Countrywide stock helped pressure the NYSE Financial Sector Index -- lately down 0.4% -- on late Friday's news the lender may lay off 10,000 to 12,000 workers, or up to 20% of its headcount, "in areas most impacted by lower mortgage market origination volumes." This will occur over the next three months. Shares closed off $1, or 5.5% to $17.21. Zions Bancorp ( ZION - Get Report), meanwhile, took a hit after Friedman Billings cut the stock to market perform from outperform. The analyst cited broad-market concerns, saying the bank will be affected by what he believes will be very slow growth in the housing and debt markets. Shares of the Salt Lake City bank sank 2.4%, to help pull down the KBW Bank Index, which lost 0.3%, to 102.97. Another member of the index, Washington Mutual ( WM - Get Report), slipped after CEO Kerry Killinger said the bank might have to boost its predicted 2007 loan-loss provision by another $500 million. He also said the housing industry is spiraling into a "near perfect storm." Shares shed 28 cents to close at $34.74. On the other hand, life-and-health insurer KMG America ( KMA) rocketed 66.5% in furious trading after Humana ( HUM) agreed to buy it for $6.20 a share in cash. The deal, which is worth some $187.7 million including debt assumption, should close in the first quarter of next year. KMG shares soared $2.32 to close at $5.81; Humana, which expects earnings accretion of 4 cents to 5 cents a share next year, tacked on 28 cents to close at $63.86.
In more M&A news, Great Lakes Bancorp ( GLK) jumped 9.2% to close at $13.10 after agreeing to a roughly $153 million takeout by First Niagara Financial ( FNFG). That pricing pans out at roughly $14 a share in cash and stock. The transaction will likely close in the first quarter of 2008. First Niagara slid 3.7% to close at $13.39. Elsewhere, education lender First Marblehead ( FMD) climbed 7.3% after saying it plans to sell private student loans in a securitization that should raise about $2.8 billion. The transaction should close on or around Sept. 20. Shares closed at $34.55. In positive analyst research, finally, Webster Financial ( WBS - Get Report) added 2.2% to close at $43.46 after Bear Stearns upped the bank to peer perform from underperform and boosted its 2008 estimates, citing a recently improved balance sheet and less earnings volatility. Payment processor Euronet Worldwide ( EEFT - Get Report) ticked up 31 cents to close at $26.82 after A.G. Edwards stamped on a buy rating.