Bank stocks rose most of Monday's session after Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated that the recession could be over this year if the banking industry stabilizes.
However, the sector could not sustain its gains.
The KBW Bank Index was buoyed by Bernanke's comments Sunday on "60 Minutes" but fell in the late afternoon to close off 0.16%. The index fell 1.43% Friday but rose 37.43% for the week on the strength of four straight days of gains.
"Margin calls and redemptions by mutual funds have slowed, which has put less downward pressure on stocks, but there is also a counter upward pressure by bargain hunters," said Theodore Kovaleff, the president of Informed Sources Service Group in New York.
Some profit-taking began by midafternoon, putting bank stocks in negative territory, Kovaleff said.
Citigroup Inc. rose 55 cents, to $2.33. The New York company said Monday that it has nominated four independent directors for its board: Jerry A. Grundhofer, the former chairman and chief executive of U.S. Bancorp; Michael E. O'Neill, the former chairman and CEO of Bank of Hawaii Corp.; Anthony M. Santomero, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; and William S. Thompson Jr., the former CEO of Pacific Investment Management Co.
Bank stocks also got an early lift Monday when Barclays PLC said it continues to perform well and has had a "strong start to 2009." The London company also confirmed news reports that it has held discussions with a number of parties interested in buying its iShares exchange-traded fund unit.
First Midwest Bancorp Inc. rose for most of the day but fell in the last hour of trading to close down 3.7%. The Itasca, Ill., company said Monday that it had slashed its dividend to a penny to save $42 million of capital a year.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 2.8%. Wells Fargo & Co. fell 1.7%. Bank of America Corp. rose 7.3%, and U.S. Bancorp rose 1.6%.
Among regionals, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. fell 3%, and SunTrust Banks Inc. fell 6%. Regions Financial Corp. rose 6 cents, to $3.85, and Fifth Third Bancorp rose 8 cents, to $1.83.
The broader markets also could not sustain their gains Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.1%, and the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.35%.
On Monday, President Obama called on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to pursue any legal measure to block bonuses from being paid to executives at American International Group Inc., which has received $70 billion of bailout money from the government. AIG rose 33 cents, to 83 cents.