3 Financial Stocks Nudging The Sector Higher

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer.

All three major indices are trading up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 114 points (0.6%) at 17,956 as of Thursday, May 7, 2015, 12:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,846 issues advancing vs. 1,171 declining with 124 unchanged.

The Financial sector currently sits up 0.3% versus the S&P 500, which is up 0.6%. Top gainers within the sector include Markel Corporation ( MKL), up 3.6%, Essex Property ( ESS), up 3.1%, Public Storage ( PSA), up 2.7%, Equity Residential ( EQR), up 2.6% and Boston Properties ( BXP), up 2.5%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include PennyMac Mortgage Investment ( PMT), down 9.8%, American Capital ( ACAS), down 4.5%, Shinhan Financial Group ( SHG), down 2.1%, KB Financial Group ( KB), down 1.6% and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce ( CM), down 1.1%.

TheStreet would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

3. MetLife ( MET) is one of the companies pushing the Financial sector higher today. As of noon trading, MetLife is up $1.14 (2.2%) to $52.55 on heavy volume. Thus far, 6.9 million shares of MetLife exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 6.0 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $50.70-$52.71 after having opened the day at $52.00 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $51.40.

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MetLife, Inc. provides life insurance, annuities, employee benefits, and asset management products in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. MetLife has a market cap of $58.3 billion and is part of the insurance industry. Shares are down 3.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 11 analysts who rate MetLife a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates MetLife as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, attractive valuation levels and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Get the full MetLife Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Morgan Stanley ( MS) is up $0.53 (1.4%) to $37.58 on average volume. Thus far, 4.7 million shares of Morgan Stanley exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 9.3 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $36.85-$37.58 after having opened the day at $36.93 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $37.05.

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Morgan Stanley, a financial holding company, provides various financial products and services to corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals worldwide. Morgan Stanley has a market cap of $73.8 billion and is part of the financial services industry. Shares are down 3.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 6 analysts who rate Morgan Stanley a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 9 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Morgan Stanley as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and attractive valuation levels. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results. Get the full Morgan Stanley Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, American International Group ( AIG) is up $1.22 (2.1%) to $59.37 on average volume. Thus far, 4.6 million shares of American International Group exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 8.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $57.82-$59.50 after having opened the day at $58.16 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $58.15.

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American International Group, Inc. provides insurance products and services for commercial, institutional, and individual customers in the United States, the Asia Pacific, and internationally. American International Group has a market cap of $77.3 billion and is part of the insurance industry. Shares are up 3.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 8 analysts who rate American International Group a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates American International Group as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, increase in net income and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity, poor profit margins and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share. Get the full American International Group Ratings Report now.

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If you are interested in one of these 3 stocks, 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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