Shares of Farmer Mac gained modestly on their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, advancing 0.19%, or 12.5 cents, to $67.125.

But the company's president, Henry D. Edelman, who rang the opening bell at the exchange, said he was optimistic about the company's move from the Nasdaq market to the Big Board.

Mr. Edelman said the shift, under study for the last three months, would allow more-efficient trading of Farmer Mac's stock, under the symbol AGM. Farmer Mac's formal name is the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corp.

The move gives the company better access to the "capital we need to grow," Mr. Edelman said. He also said Nasdaq's bid-ask spreads on its shares "were just too wide," inconveniencing investors.

Farmer Mac was established by Congress in 1988 to create liquidity for agricultural real estate and rural housing loans.

The company gathers loans and packages them into securities for sale on the secondary market.

Elsewhere, bank stocks rose modestly on Friday. The Standard & Poor's bank index added 0.23% and the Dow Jones industrial average, 0.13%. The Nasdaq bank index rose 0.23% and the S&P 500, 0.22%.

A bank in Illinois is successfully going the de novo route.

Chicago's Wintrust Financial Corp., whose shares fell 5.26%, to $18, on Friday, is a favorite pick of Anthony J. Polini at Advest Inc.

Wintrust was started in 1991 by bankers and local businesspeople who wanted to serve customers who had become disenfranchised through mergers.

The company "is building franchise value by creating fast-growing de novo banks that can generate superior earnings growth," Mr. Polini said. "As the banks mature, a fully leveraged expense base should contribute to high performance ratios."

He does cite some risks. "The company's track record, while excellent, dates back less than 10 years and has not been tested under adverse economic conditions."

Also, Wintrust's stock trades at an average of under 20,000 shares daily.

"While this compares favorably with peers as a percentage of outstanding shares, it is still too low to ensure a high level of trading liquidity," Mr. Polini said.

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