Financial stocks jumped Tuesday and outperformed the struggling major indices thanks to a few shots of good news. The NYSE Financial Sector Index was up 50.39 points, or 0.5%, to 9,499.14 as members Bank of America ( BAC) and UBS ( UBS) gained on positive analyst calls. Goldman Sachs restarted coverage of BofA with a buy rating, citing $22.5 billion in unrealized equity gains in the Charlotte, N.C., bank's strategic investment portfolio. BofA shares added 1.7% to $51.49, also in support of the KBW Bank Index, which was recently up 0.2% to 108.51. UBS climbed 2.6%, meanwhile, after JP Morgan said losses at its fixed-income business -- which, as UBS warned Monday, will help induce an overall third-quarter loss -- will force the Swiss bank to shift its focus away from those risky operations. The analyst upgraded UBS to neutral from underweight. Education lender Sallie Mae ( SLM) was also in the green after getting a revised buyout offer. The J.C. Flowers-led investment group that originally agreed to buy Sallie for $60 a share is now offering $50 a share with warrants for a per-share payout of up to $10, depending on future performance. Last week, the group
said it wouldn't close the original $25 billion deal due to a new law that will cut subsidies to education lenders. Shares of the Reston, Va., company tacked on $1.23, or 2.5%, to $51.13.
Elsewhere, IntercontinentalExchange ( ICE) said its ICE Futures U.S. segment saw a 22.4% rise in September average daily volume, while its European segment posted record average volume numbers in that month. Shares rose 0.8% to $155.17. On the other hand, TD Bank ( TD) and Commerce Bancorp ( CBH) both lost ground after the sides signed a merger deal. TD will pay roughly $8.5 billion in cash and stock in the pact, which should close in March or April of next year. TD expects the purchase to cut its adjusted per-share earnings in fiscal 2008 and be neutral to profits in 2009. Commerce also announced it will take a $150 million hit in the third quarter after it sells a portion of its fixed-rate investment securities portfolio and reinvests in short-term or floating rate AAA-rated securities. Canada-based TD surrendered 5.8% at $72.48. Commerce, of Cherry Hill, N.J., was off 0.6% at $39.39. Maguire Properties ( MPG), a Los Angeles-based real estate investment trust, slipped 2.2% on a Bank of America downgrade to sell. Shares lost 59 cents to $26.74.