Top Financial Stocks
Financial stocks were slightly higher Thursday, with the NYSE Financial Sector Index rising 0.2% while financial companies in the S&P 500 Index also were climbing almost 0.2%. Elsewhere, the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index was more than 1.5% higher.
In economic news:
Wall Street largely shrugged off an 11,000 rise in the number of first-time unemployment insurance claims last week, reaching 261,000 claims and missing expectations for a 5,000 decline during the seven days ended Jan. 6. The four-week moving average also grew, increasing to 250,750 from 241.750 during the prior period. Continuing claims fell 35,000 to a 44-year low of 1.867 million.
Also Thursday, wholesale prices declined 0.1% during December, marking the first contraction since late 2016. Excluding food and fuels, the core producer price index also slipped 0.1%. Both metrics had been expected to rise 0.2% last month.
Among financial stocks moving on news:
Verifone Systems ( PAY ) was more than 1% higher in mid-day trading, easing somewhat from its earlier session high of $18.53 a share, after the electronic payments processor said it was expanding its global partnership with Alipay, the payments unit of Chinese online retailer Alibaba Group ( BABA ). The new deal will allow buyers to use Alipay at Lacoste stores throughout the United States. Chinese travelers spent an estimated $33 billion in the US during 2016, Verifone said.
In other sector news:
+ XL Group ( XL ) rose Thursday after the property and casualty insurer Wednesday night said preliminary estimates indicate it will sustain around $45 million in natural catastrophe net losses from the the recent wildfires in California. Other events are expected to cause around $20 million in losses, it said, adding that all of its $315 million in Q4 losses - which includes its previously announced $250 million in anticipated wildfire losses - will be split roughly equally between the company's insurance and reinsurance segments.
+ Triangle Capital ( TCAP ) rose Thursday after Raymond James raised its stock rating for the company to Market Perform From Underperform.
+ Reinsurance Group of America ( RGA ) was edging higher after forming global reinsurer Langhorne Re together with RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd (RNR). Langhorne will target large in-force life and annuity blocks and so far has secured about $780 million of equity capital commitments from the two firms.
- Brookfield Asset Management Inc (BAM) declined Thursday after the alternative assets manager began a $500 million offering of 10-year notes along with a $250 re-opening of its 4.7% notes due 2047, building on the company's $550 million private placement of the 30-year notes last year.
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