3 Things That Could Move Financial Stocks Today

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The following is the news and headlines that could move financial stocks today.

Hartford Financial Services Group ( HIG) will split up the company after coming under increasing pressure from hedge-fund titan John Paulson.

Hartford will wind-down its individual annuity business (called "runoff") and will sell or pursue "strategic alternatives" for the company's individual life, Woodbury Financial Services and retirement plans units, according to a statement released Tuesday.

That will leave the property casualty, mutual fund and group benefits businesses remaining with Boston-Hartford.

The split is a big victory for Paulson, who took an 8% stake in Hartford and announced a plan to split the company's property and casualty business in a tax-free spinoff during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call.

Shares of Hartford were gaining 2% in premarket trading Wednesday.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are expected to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the situation in Europe.

According to prepared remarks released by the Fed on Monday evening, Bernanke is expected to tell Capitol Hill that banks have limited exposure to the peripheral European nations that are in trouble, but still have material exposure to European banks in the "core" nations.

He is also expected to highlight the exposure of money market funds to Europe as a key risk.

The Fed recently conducted stress tests to capture the vulnerability of the financial system to stresses that might arise from the European crisis. 15 out of 19 banks met the Fed's capital adequacy requirements under the stressed scenario.

"The recent reduction in financial stresses in Europe is a welcome development for the United States, given the important trade and financial linkages connecting our economies," Bernanke is expected to say in concluding remarks. "However, Europe's financial and economic situation remains difficult, and it is critical that the European leaders follow through on their policy commitments to ensure a lasting stabilization."

Senators from both parties are working towards giving regulators more time to write the highly complex and controversial Volcker rule, which has been a source of much anxiety for universal and investment banks.

Banks have been worried that the rule, which seeks to restrict firms from taking too much risk with their own capital, might interfere with regular market-making activities that are essential to providing liquidity to the markets and would increase the cost of trading.

The rule is expected to go in effect on July 21, although Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted recently that the deadline will likely pass because of the extensive feedback the regulators have received over the draft of the rule.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho, is expected to introduce legislation in coming weeks that would push back the Volcker rule start date to one year after the regulators finish their work. At least one democrat supports the measure, the report said.

The Volcker rule is expected to hurt Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Morgan Stanley ( MS) the most, although banks with large investment banking operations including JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC) will also be affected.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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