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.

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