NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Financial stocks continued their upward trajectory on Thursday after the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time came in better than expected.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR, an exchange traded fund which tracks the financial sector, rose 1.3% to $14.51.

Morgan Stanley ( MS) barreled out ahead of other financials, rising as much as 4.7% on Thursday. The stock shed its gains somewhat by the end of the day, but was still up roughly 4% to $27.01 at market close.

Several Puerto Rican banks saw their stocks in positive territory. Doral Financial ( DRL) shares surged as much as 16%, roughly 24 cents, on Wednesday to $1.75. Doral shares retreated somewhat by closing to $1.68. Banco Popular ( BPOP) shares rose 4.5%, or 12 cents, to $2.80.

Other winners included SunTrust Banks ( STI), with shares up 2.9% to $24.77; State Street ( STT) shares were up 2.6% to $38.26; and Zions Bancorp ( ZION), also up 2.6% to $20.31.

Visa ( V) and MasterCard ( MA) shares spent another day in the red, with each stock hitting a new 52-week-low during intraday trading. Both payments firms had stronger than average trading, with more than 13.2 million Visa shares changing hands - double its average - on Thursday. Approximately 2.1 million MasterCard shares changed hands, above its average of 1.5 million shares.

Visa shares ended the day down 2.6% to $66.78. MasterCard shares 1.2% to $191.98.

--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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