Updated from 2:45 p.m. EDT with new stock prices

Financial stocks pressed lower Thursday as a surprise September rise in new-home sales, per the Census Bureau, was countered by a congressional report that forecasted some 2 million subprime mortgage foreclosures by the end of 2008.

Among individual names, Triad Guaranty ( TGIC) plummeted 26.61% to $6.04 after "rapid deterioration of the housing markets" helped pressure a loss of $31.8 million, or $2.13 a share, to reverse a year-ago profit.

Fellow mortgage insurers Radian ( RDN) and MGIC Investment ( MTG) were each off sharply as well, as MGIC slashed its dividend by 90% to 0.025 a share. Radian tumbled 23.62% to $9.99; MGIC sank 9.32% to $17.90.

Investment manager W.P. Stewart ( WPL) outright suspended its 15-cent quarterly dividend, kicking shares down 18.81% to $6.26. WellCare ( WCG), a health insurer and managed-care provider, dove 62.95% to $42.67 following a government raid of its offices .

Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch ( MER) was battered by downgrades from UBS, Wachovia and Bernstein on the heels of yesterday's release of dismal financials . Goldman Sachs also slashed 2007 earnings estimates by around 79%. Merrill shares shed $2.32, or 3.67%, to $60.90.

Thornburg Mortgage ( TMA) slid 6.37% on a UBS cut to neutral from buy, and JP Morgan lowered Moody's ( MCO) to underweight following yesterday's disappointing earnings report. Shares of the credit-ratings firm traded down 5.66% to $43.33.

MBIA Insurance ( MBI) swung to a net third-quarter loss and posted slipping operating income of $1.52 a share, which missed the average analyst estimate by 7 cents. Shares of the Armonk, N.Y., company tumbled 14.86% to $46.99.

IntercontinentalExchange ( ICE) beat third-quarter earnings projections, per Thomson Financial, but retreated 3.89% following yesterday's big run-up. Ameriprise ( AMP) lost 3.83% to $63.28 after the asset manager posted an in-line adjusted profit for the quarter.

Elsewhere, Bank of America ( BAC) announced it's laying off roughly 3,000 employees "in light of market conditions and strategic imperatives" and following last week's huge reported profit slide in the third quarter.

Shares of the Charlotte, N.C., banking giant were recently down 1.01% to $47, which weighed on both the NYSE Financial Sector Index and the KBW Bank Index -- down 0.64% and 0.58%, respectively.

Insurance behemoth American International Group ( AIG) fell 3.21% in heavy trading on rumors that third-quarter financials, set to issue in a couple of weeks, might reflect subprime-related writedowns. And Countrywide ( CFC), which is due to report tomorrow and which at least one analyst expects will suspend its dividend , surrendered 5.50% to $13.07.

On the other hand, Amerigroup ( AGP) said third-quarter earnings jumped 26.1% year over year to 58 cents a share -- 6 cents higher than the mean Street target. The Virginia Beach-based company also upped its full-year guidance to top consensus. Shares climbed $3.12, or 9.39%, to $36.36.

In more positive earnings, Boston Private Financial's ( BPFH) 54-cent "cash" earnings per share easily beat the 39-cent Street targets. Pennsylvania brokerage SEI Investments ( SEIC) and Britain-based insurance broker Willis Group ( WSH) also came in ahead. Shares of the firms were gaining 5.43% or more.

Finally, Commerce Bancorp ( CBH) traded mostly in the green despite swinging to a third-quarter loss of $47.9 million, or 24 cents a share. Earlier this month the New Jersey bank agreed to be taken out by Toronto-Dominion Bank ( TD) in an $8.5 billion stock-and-cash transaction. Commerce shares recently added 34 cents to $38.92.