Bear Stearns Cos. Inc.'s report Wednesday that its earnings beat estimates by 14 cents lifted the brokerage sector considerably on a day when most financial stocks remained flat or fell further.

For the quarter that ended May 26, the New York investment firm's net income was $214.4 million, or $1.40 per share, up 8.2% from the year-earlier period. Analysts surveyed by First Call had estimated per-share earnings would be $1.26.

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