Monday provided a mixed day of trading for financial stocks, which struggled for direction amid several analyst actions. Citigroup upgraded National City ( NCC) to buy from hold based on its recent capital raise. The analyst thinks the beaten-down bank will be able to weather this storm with the capital cushion the bank has built up; however, the price target remains $7. Shares of the Cleveland-based bank rose 5.6% to $5.88. The same analyst though lowered earnings estimates for investment banks Goldman Sachs ( GS), Lehman Brothers ( LEH) and Morgan Stanley ( MS), citing decreased client trading among other factors. Goldman dropped $3.31, or 1.8%, to $183.83; Lehman slid $1.07, or 2.5%, to $42.57; and Morgan tumbled $1.18, or 2.5%, to $46.03. The NYSE Financial Sector index ticked down 0.7% to 7,617.50 after having been in positive territory earlier in the day. Mortgage lender Fannie Mae ( FNM) gave back 3.25 to $28.93 after announcing that it would institute a new policy on down payments for conventional loans. The new requirements will allow homeowners to apply 3% or 5% as a down payment for primary residences. Fannie Mae said it wanted to support homeowners. E*Trade ( ETFC) announced that it had signed an agreement to sell its equity shares in IL&FS Investment, an India-based financial organization. The sale is expected to generate $145 million in proceeds to the electronic brokerage. Shares in E*Trade lost 6.5% to $4.03.
Another loser for the day was CompuCredit ( CCRT), which ticked down 1.9% to $10.67, even though a well-known value investor made positive comments about the company. The firm provides financial services to underserved and un-banked consumers and investor Monhish Pabrai said he increased his stake in the company. However, there were some winners for the day including East West Bancorp ( EWBC), which traded up after Barron's reported that the bank which focuses on the ethnic Chinese community in the U.S., is cheap following a slide of more than 70% in the past year and in light of its earnings potential in 2009. Shares of the bank were up 3.9% to $13.69. Advanta Corp. ( ADVNB) jumped 2.4% to $10.11 after announcing that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Advanta Business Receivables, had priced and closed $247 million of business credit card securitizations backed by receivables in a revolving business purpose credit card accounts originated by Advanta Bank. Advanta issues credit cards to small businesses.