Top Financial Stocks
Financial stocks were advancing in recent trading, with the NYSE Financial Sector Index rising more than 0.8% while financial companies in the S&P 500 Index were climbing almost 1.2%. The Philadelphia Housing Sector Index was posting a nearly 1.4% increase.
In economic news:
Layoff announcements jumped to 60,357 workers in March, according to the Challenger Grey Christmas jobs cuts report, up from 35,369 announced layoffs in February and reaching their highest level since last June. The Labor Department Thursday also said first-time unemployment claims increased by a larger-than-expected 24,000 applicants to 242,000 during the week ended March 31. That compares with the upwardly revised 218,000 initial claims for unemployment benefits during the prior week and expert opinion looking for a 15,000 rise in claims to 230,000 applicants last week. The four-week moving average rose to 228.250 claims from an upwardly revised 225.250 average during the previous week. Continuing claims fell by 64,000 to 1.808 million.
The international trade deficit for goods and services expanded again during February, climbing $900,000 to reach $57.6 million. Experts polled by Econoday had been expecting a much smaller $100 million increase from January's $56.7 billion total. Imports and exports both rose in February, including a surprise 2.3% increase to $137.2 billion for exports and a 1.6% advance to $214.2 billion for imports. Gains for industrial supplies, automobiles and capital goods all contributed to the rise in February exports.
Among financial stocks moving on news:
+ MGM Growth Properties LLC ( MGP ) was higher Tuesday afternoon, easing somewhat from a nearly 5% gain soon after the opening bell after the real estate investment trust announced its $1.06 billion acquisition of the Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio. The Rocksino combines gaming, dining and entertainment in a single facility located about 17 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. The property occupies 110 acres and consists of a 200,000-square foot gaming facility and more than 2,300 video lottery terminals as well as several retail and eating outlets together with entertainment venues, including a 1,900-seat music venue and a 250-seat event space. It also includes a year-round horse racetrack and a gas station and car wash. MGM is expecting the transaction to increase its per-share adjusted funds from operation by the mid- to high-single percentage digits over its previous projections and is planning to fund the purchase price with a combination of available cash and debt.
In other sector news:
+ Black Knight ( BKI ) rose more than 2% on Thursday after the financial technology and analytics company said industry heavyweight JPMorgan Chase ( JPM ) has signed a contract to use Black Knight's LoanSphere Empower loan origination system as part of its home-equity originations business. Financial terms and other details of the new contract were not disclosed.
+ First Horizon National ( FHN ) was fractionally higher Thursday following an upgrade of the bank holding company to Outperform from Market Perform by analysts at Wells Fargo Securities.