The financial sector traded comfortably in the green after a false start out of the gate, and among the winners was Nasdaq ( NDAQ). Jefferies started Nasdaq with a buy rating a day after the New York-based exchange announced it will
take out the Boston Stock Exchange and its key assets for roughly $61 million. The deal, which was generally praised by analysts, will likely close in the first quarter. Shares were up 2.5% to $39.70. Fellow exchange NYSE Euronext ( NYX) said NYSE Group's September average daily volumes rose 4.1% year over year to 2.5 billion shares. On the Euronext cash markets, that month's average daily transactions surged 66.8% from last year. Shares gained 2.6% at $81.63 to help boost the NYSE Financial Sector Index, which recently added 39 points, or 0.4%, to 9,573.57. Also lifting the sector tracker was Deutsche Bank ( DB), which estimated higher third-quarter income despite a potential $3 billion hit related to leveraged loans, structured credit products and mortgage-backed securities. The German bank nonetheless expects earnings of more than $1.98 billion vs. last year's $1.69 billion based on current conversion rates. Deutsche also reaffirmed its $11.85 billion pretax earnings target for all of 2008. Shares added $2.99, or 2.3%, to $135.36. On the flip side, Bear Stearns ( BSC) slipped 0.2% to $128.27 after saying it would eliminate 310 jobs in its mortgage business. American Financial Realty Trust ( AFR) slid 5.9% after the Pennsylvania real estate investment trust was cut to sell at Stifel Nicolaus. The analyst cited the indeterminate value of a certain properties portfolio and the company's ongoing search for a new CEO, among other worries. Shares were trading at $7.65.
Meanwhile, Sallie Mae ( SLM) continued slipping after essentially
rejecting a revised buyout offer from a J.C. Flowers-led group. The group, which also includes Bank of America ( BAC) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), is now offering cash of $50 a share plus warrants with a payout of up to another $10 a share, based on future performance. But the education lender said it expects the group not to "breach" the original $25 billion contract. Sallie shares lately shed 0.5% to $49.82. BofA and JPMorgan tacked on 0.5% and 1.1%, respectively, in support of the KBW Bank Index, which climbed 0.8% to 109.76. Elsewhere, BankUnited Financial ( BKUNA) projected at least a 27% year-over-year drop in fiscal fourth-quarter operating earnings to between 41 cents and 46 cents a share. The Coral Gables, Fla., savings bank blamed "extremely aggressive pricing strategies by large major competitors." Shares were off 7 cents to $16.01.