Bank stocks had a choppy day after mixed reports on the economy and the industry before closing lower.
The KBW Bank Index rose in the morning after a pair of economic reports were released. The Institute for Supply Management reported that service industry activity grew for the second straight month in October, and the ADP National Employment Report said that job losses declined for the seventh straight month.
Bank stocks fell later in the morning after Meredith Whitney, the chief executive of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC in New York, said on CNBC that there would be no normalized earnings for banks for some time, as consumers continue to struggle and Congress debates sweeping regulatory changes.
The sector swung upward again briefly after the Federal Open Market Committee announced in the afternoon that it would leave key interest rates unchanged, once again stating that "economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period."
However, the KBW Bank Index dropped back into negative territory at the end of the session, closing down 2.14%.
Overall, bank stocks have been volatile over the past week despite positive economic reports, as investors remain cautious about the sector, said Frank Barkocy, the director of research at Mendon Capital Advisors.
"Until we get more conviction that we're moving in the right direction, I think the group is going to still be a little choppy on a near-term basis," he said.
Decliners included JPMorgan Chase & Co., which fell 1.2%, Bank of America Corp., 0.7%, Wells Fargo & Co., 3.1%, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 2.3%, U.S. Bancorp, 1.9%, and Citigroup Inc., 7 cents, to $3.97.
Among the regionals, SunTrust Banks Inc. fell 1.1%, BB&T Corp., 3.4%, Capital One Financial Corp., 0.6%, KeyCorp, 4%, Comerica Inc., 1.8%, Fifth Third Bancorp, 2.2%, Zions Bancorp., 5.2%, Marshall & Ilsley Corp., 2.5%, M&T Bank Corp., 2.9%, Regions Financial Corp., 17 cents, to $4.67, and Huntington Bancshares Inc., 13 cents, to $3.69.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.31% and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.1%.