The financial sector closed the day down 0.1%. Waccamaw Bankshares Inc ( WBNK), Phoenix Companies Inc ( PNX), Southwest Bancorp Inc ( OKSB), and Southern Connecticut Bancorp ( SSE) were all winners today within the financial sector with American Express ( AXP) being today's featured financial winner. American Express rose 29 cents (0.6%) to $52.10 on light volume. Throughout the day, 7.4 million shares of American Express exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 10 million shares.

American Express Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides charge and credit payment card products, and travel-related services worldwide. American Express has a market cap of $60.2 billion and is part of the financial services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.7, equal to the average financial services industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 21.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates American Express as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front, Atlantic Coast Financial ( ACFC), MF Global Holdings ( MF), Paulson Capital ( PLCC), and First Capital Bancorp Inc ( FCVA) were all losers within the financial sector with Allstate ( ALL) being today's financial sector Loser Spotlight stock.

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).
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