Most bank stocks fell with the rest of the stock market on Friday as many investors headed for the sidelines to await the outcome of the presidential election.

"The market, and especially the bank stock group, dislikes uncertainty, and with the pre-election polls in such flux, the caution light is on and there is a lot of time-marking going on," said one trader. Volume was thin.

Turnover Minimal for Most

In late trading, New York's Citicorp was off 12.5 cents, to $16.625, with a turnover of 752,900 shares, far less than the recent average.

BankAmerica Corp., the San Francisco superregional, was unchanged at $41,875 with volume of only 606,100 shares.

NationsBank Corp., Charlotte, N.C., the largest-capitalization superregional bank in the East, was down 12.5 cents with turnover at a minimal 180,400 shares.

The biggest gainers of the day were Firstar Corp., Milwaukee, up $1.125, to $29.125, and Wachovia Corp., Winston-Salem, N.C., up $ 1.25, to $66. But slender volume likely exaggerated the gains, market sources said.

Waiting for Buffett

The biggest decliner was Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco, down $1.375, to $70.875, on sluggish trading.

Wells was the most volatile bank stock of the week. It soared early in the week on prospects that investor Warren Buffett was increasing his already considerable stake, but then receded.

First Interstate Bancorp, Los Angeles, dropped 50 cents, to $39.375, after announcing that its California banking affiliate was lowering its credit card interest rates to 17.9% from 21%.

One actively traded issue in advance of the election was the Student Loan Marketing Association, Washington. Shares of the government-sponsored enterprise were up $1.125, to $66.625, on volume of 640,000 shares.

In the mortgage area, shares of MGIC Investment Corp., Milwaukee, the big private mortgage insurer, were down $1, to $40.625, but volume was light at 67,500 shares.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.