Regions: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Regions Financial ( RF) was the big winner among the largest U.S. financial names on Wednesday, with shares rising 5% to close at $7.65.

The broad indexes rose after the National Association of Realtors reported that total existing home sales during August rose 7.8% during August, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.82 million, from 4.47 million in July, and had risen 9.3% from a year earlier.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said "the housing market is steadily recovering with consistent increases in both home sales and median prices," and that "Inventories in many parts of the country are broadly balanced, favoring neither sellers nor buyers," but "the West and Florida markets are experiencing inventory shortages, which are placing pressure on prices."

Following a on Thursday by the National Association of Home Builders reported that the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose for a fifth consecutive month, to a level of 40, which was "its highest reading since June of 2006," Deutsche Bank said early Wednesday that "Housing is one of the rare bright spots in the economy at present; as we have highlighted recently, both manufacturing and exports appear to be foundering, and unless the labor market up-shifts relatively soon, the outlook for consumers may come under pressure as well."

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) rose 0.5% to close at 50.79, with all but seven of the 24 index components showing gains for the session.

Regions Financial has seen its stock return 79% year-to-date, following a 38% decline during 2011.

The company went through a major transition during the first half of 2012. During the second quarter, the company redeemed all $3.5 billion in preferred stock held by the government for bailout assistance received in 2008 through the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), after selling its Morgan Keegan subsidiary and raising $900 million in common equity during the first quarter.

The company reported second-quarter earnings available to common shareholders of $284 million, or 20 cents a share, increasing from $145 million, or 11 cents a share during the first quarter, and $55 million, or four cents a share, during the second quarter of 2011. The second-quarter earnings were reduced by $71 million, or five cents a share, from the accelerated discount accretion on the redeemed TARP preferred shares.

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