The financial sector closed the day up 1.7%. First Place Financial Corporation ( FPFC), Merriman Holdings Inc ( MERR), American Realty Investors Inc ( ARL), and Stewardship Financial Corporation ( SSFN) were all decliners today within the financial sector with MFA Financial Inc ( MFA) being today's featured financial loser. MFA Financial Inc fell 4 cents (-0.6%) to $6.37 on average volume. Throughout the day, 5.3 million shares of MFA Financial Inc exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of six million shares.

MFA Financial, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), primarily invests in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that include hybrid and adjustable-rate MBS. MFA Financial Inc has a market cap of $2.3 billion and is part of the real estate industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.7, equal to the average real estate industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 21.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates MFA Financial as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally poor debt management, disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

On the positive front, FNB NC Corporation ( FNBN), Waccamaw Bankshares Inc ( WBNK), Carver Bancorp Inc ( CARV), and Siebert Financial Corporation ( SIEB) were all gainers within the financial sector with Citigroup Inc ( C) being today's featured financial sector winner.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the financial sector could consider Financial Select Sector SPDR ( XLF) while those bearish on the financial sector could consider Proshares Short Financials ( SEF).