Bank of America: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Banks rallied on Monday, as investors got more clarity on the capital buffers for large banks, which were less stringent than feared.

The Basel Committee agreed over the weekend on additional capital requirements for "global systemically important banks" to be introduced in parallel with the Basel III capital requirements that had previously been agreed upon.

In addition to requiring banks to maintain a Tier 1 Capital of 7% common equity ratios by 2019, the Committee will require the largest banks to 1% to 2.5%, "depending on a bank's systemic importance," with "an additional 1% surcharge," to "provide a disincentive for banks facing the highest charge to increase materially their global systemic importance."

The markets were pricing in a much steeper buffer , according to research by Goldman Sachs last week.

Shares of Bank of America ( BAC) rose 3.1% to $10.85, leading large-cap banks higher. Shares of Citigroup ( C) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) rose by a more modest 1%.

U.S. Bancorp ( USB), PNC Financial ( PNC) and State Street ( STT) also gained smartly among the large-caps. State Street shares rose 2.1% to $44.22 after Guggenheim Securities upgraded the stock to buy from neutral and increased its earnings estimates for 2011 and 2012, while noting that a rise in interest rates will hurt the liability-sensitive bank.

Regional banks finished mostly higher. Shares of Synovus ( SNV) was an exception, falling 3.3% to $2.05. Wunderlich Securities analyst Kevin Reynolds downgraded the Georgia Bank on Friday to "hold" from "buy" and lowered the 18-month share-price estimate to $2.50 from $3.50, citing capital constraints.

Shares of Hudson City Bancorp ( HCBK) and First Commonwealth Financial ( FCF) finished stronger on upgrades from FBR Capital. First Commonwealth was upgraded to outperform from market perform. The analyst said recent M&A activity in Pennsylvania, all "substantially" above tangible book and at "sizable" premiums to the market, highlights the value of the company's franchise.

Hudson City was upgraded to market perform from underperform, arguing that the bank's problems were priced in at valuations that were 85% of tangible book value. He also saw some potential upside. "Hudson City's FDIC insurance expense will increase significantly in 2Q11, but the company has a strong case for appeal, given its pristine credit quality, which could result in a reversal in 3Q11 and an increase in our 2012 earnings estimates."

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

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