The Nasdaq is up 0.2%, the S&P 500 is trading down 0.1% and the Dow has declined 0.2% so far today. The financial sector is the category of stocks containing firms that provide financial services to commercial and retail customers. This sector includes banks, investment funds, insurance companies and real estate. Financial services perform best in low interest rate environments. A large portion of this sector generates revenue from mortgages and loans, which gain value as interest rates drop. Furthermore, when the business cycle is in an upswing, the financial sector benefits from additional investments. Improved economic conditions usually lead to more capital projects and increased personal investing. New projects require financing, which usually leads to a larger number of loans.

These are the biggest movers in the Financial sector (XLF) (+0.1%):

Company Market Cap Percentage Change
S & T Bancorp (Nasdaq:STBA) $504.6 million +4.4%
Alleghany (NYSE:Y) $5.95 billion -4.4%
FBL Financial (NYSE:FFG) $855.1 million -3.3%
A.F.P Provida SA (NYSE:PVD) $2.26 billion -2.3%
Banco de Chile (NYSE:BCH) $13.24 billion -1.9%
Altisource Portfolio Solutions (Nasdaq:ASPS) $2.48 billion -1.6%
World (Nasdaq:WRLD) $943.7 million -1.5%

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After an increase of 4.4%, S & T Bancorp (Nasdaq:STBA) has reached a current price of $17.73. So far today, the company's volume is 29,570 shares, in line with the current daily average.

Alleghany (NYSE:Y) has fallen 4.4% and is currently trading at $335.51 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 35,932 shares. This is a sign that there will be less trading activity than there was yesterday.

At $32.15, FBL Financial (NYSE:FFG) has slipped 3.3%. With 21,773 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is in keeping with its current three-month average.

A.F.P Provida SA (NYSE:PVD) is down 2.3% to reach $100.12 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 3,936 shares.

Banco de Chile (NYSE:BCH) is currently trading at a share price of $88.52, a 1.9% decline. So far today, the company's volume is 1,350 shares, 0.1 times the current daily average.

Slipping 1.6%, Altisource Portfolio Solutions (Nasdaq:ASPS) is currently trading at $104.62 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 27,184 shares. This is on pace to fall short of yesterday's volume of 144,135 shares.

World (Nasdaq:WRLD) has decreased to $71.94 per share, a 1.5% fall. The company's volume for the day so far is 100,413 shares, in keeping with the average volume over the past three months.

The Bottom Line On any given day, a particular stock may see positive or negative change in its share price. It is important to weigh current activity against historical performance when making any investment decisions. Tools like valuation ratios and profit margins, however, are only as useful as the context you put them in; remember to take historical data and competitor performance into account.

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