Financial Stocks Mixed; Upgrades Outnumber Downgrades for National Bank of Greece, Shares Rise Over 6%

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Financial stocks were narrowly mixed with the NYSE Financial Sector Index up less than 0.1% and the S&P Financial 100 Index declining about 0.2%.

In company news, American depository shares of the National Bank of Greece ( NBG ) rose Friday, making up a small portion of yesterday's 16% decline following a pair of upgrades by analysts at JPMorgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

NBG shares were up 6.4% at $3.09 apiece in recent trade, just 2 cents off their intra-day high - after JPMorgan boosted its rating to Overweight from Neutral while Merrill Lynch raised NBG to Neutral from Underperform. The stock earlier reached a session high of $2.98 a share, although a downgrade of the bank today by Deutsche Bank likely is keeping a lid on any broader advance.

The moves follow Standard & Poor's on Wednesday increasing its rating on NBG and three other Greek banks to CCC+ from CCC. S&P also maintained its C short-term rating and stable outlook for NBG.

But NBG shares tumbled Thursday after the Greek National Statistics Agency said the national economy shrank by an annualized 2.5% during Q1 - down from a 2.3% drop initially reported last month - compared to the first three months of 2013.

Overall, Greek and European Union experts expect the Greek economy will decline another 4% this year as the government continues to cut public spending and wages and boosts taxes to tackle its severe debt crisis.

In other sector news,

(+) IBN, (+9.9%) India's Bharatiya Janata Party appears set to claim a majority of the 545 seats in the Indian parliament - either winning or leading in 280 races - the first time in 30 years a coalition won't be needed to rule India.

(-) FFKT, (-4.3%) Completes redemption of one-third of its outstanding Series A preferred stock, paying $10.2 mln - or $1,000 face value of each of the 10,000 shares plus accrued dividends of $22.50 per share.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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