Market Focus with Tom Hudson-Wednesday, Mar 14, 2012

SUSIE GHARIB: On Wall Street today, the spotlight was squarely on financial stocks, and that helped give the broader market a lift. So, let’s take a closer look at all the big market movers in tonight’s “Market Focus.”

Many big banks were the big winners today, with the exception of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and Citi, which we already told you about. Investors gobbled up bank stocks. There were also big moves in insurance stocks, retailers and gold miners.

Let’s start with the KBW (NYSE:KBW) Bank Index, which tracks 24 of the biggest financial firms. It rose 1.3 percent as investors had a chance to react to generally positive results from those Federal Reserve’s stress tests.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) was the biggest mover in the Dow today. Shares of the nation’s biggest bank rose more than 4 percent, hitting levels not seen since last summer. And as we reported, the bank did pass its stress test, which was a relief to many investors.

KBW (NYSE:KBW)shares jumped almost $2, or 3.5 percent, and that’s after it announced a stock buyback worth $4 billion. The shares are now trading at pre-financial crisis levels.

But the Fed’s stress test results took a toll on many insurance stocks. Investors now fear the industry’s biggest names will face tighter capital requirements. So, Metlife (NYSE:MET) was the biggest loser in the S&P 500 index. The shares fell $2.30, or almost 6 percent, and that’s even after its plan for a buyback was rejected by the Fed.

Shares of Prudential Financial slipped alongside Metlife (NYSE:MET), falling $1.49 to $61 and change even though PRU wasn’t even subjected to a stress test. But investors think there’s a good chance both insurers will be more closely monitored by the Fed.

There were also big moves in two major retail chains on earnings news, but that’s where the similarity ends. Shares of Pacific Sunwear fell a whopping 18 percent after the teen retailer posted a deep fourth quarter loss. It also issued a disappointing first quarter forecast.

On the flip side, Francesca’s Holdings (NASDAQ:FRAN). It operates a chain of boutiques selling apparel and accessories. The company’s fourth quarter earnings surged 93 percent, and that prompted at least three brokerage firms to raise their price targets on the stock. Shares rose more than 9 percent.

And as we told you, gold prices fell sharply today, and that did hurt gold mining stocks. Here’s a look at Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), the world’s largest gold producer, fell more than 4 percent; Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC) tumbled more than 6 percent; and Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) slipping 1 percent.

And finally tonight, a look at the biggest loser in the Dow: Disney (NYSE:DIS). Disney (NYSE:DIS) shares lost over 1 percent after its big-budget film “John Carter” bombed in its box office debut.

And on that note, that’s tonight’s “Market Focus”.

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