( Updated with stock price moves throughout.) NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C) was among the best performers of the financial sector Friday, rising 6.5% after reports the bank has restarted efforts to unload its Japanese call center. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Citi's Japanese private equity arm has resumed its effort to sell Bellsystem24, the country's largest call center company by market share. The first round of bidding for Bellsystem24, valued at $1.5 billion by Citi, will close on Sept. 1, the report said, citing a person familiar with the deal. Citigroup shares were lately rising 29 cents to $4.77, bringing the five-day rally near 20%.
In other bank news, Morgan Stanley ( MS) is planning to hire as many as 400 traders and sales people, according to a Reuters report, as the firm moves to compete better with rival Goldman Sachs ( GS). Reuters late Thursday reported that Morgan Stanley had hired about half of the 400 planned additions to work across sales and trading, citing a source familiar with the plan. Morgan Stanley wants the workers for its foreign exchange, emerging markets and equity derivatives businesses, the report said. Morgan Stanley shares were up 10 cents, or 0.3%, to $29.46. Goldman, meanwhile, was up 1.7% to $164.75. Among other bank stocks, JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) added 2.7%, Bank of America ( BAC) was higher by 2% and Wells Fargo ( WFC) rose 1.7%. Regional bank stocks were also jumping Friday. Regions Financial ( RF) was higher by 6.6%, Citizens Republic Bancorp ( CRBC) rose 5.4%, Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB) climbed 5%, and Huntington Bancshares ( HBAN) tacked on 2.7%
Elsewhere, American International Group ( AIG) shares rose 2.4% after the insurer won dismissal of a $1 billion lawsuit that claimed AIG shortchanged state workers' compensation pools. Shares added 78 cents to $33.08. Guaranty Financial ( GFG) reversed an early slide despite reports the bank would be shut down by regulators Friday. The Wall Street Journal Thursday reported that sources "familiar with the matter," saying that Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria ( BBC) was the likely winner of a government auction of Guaranty's branches and deposits. Guaranty shares were lately up 3 cents, or 9.7%, to 34 cents. -- Written by Robert Holmes in New York.