Bank stocks fluctuated most of Wednesday, and the KBW Bank Index seesawed throughout the day but dropped in the last half-hour of trading to close down 4.88%.
Jim Bradshaw, an analyst at Bridge City Capital in Portland, Ore., said first-quarter results played a role.
"Generally the news has been mixed, with many banks reporting margin pressure, higher provision expenses and a continued rise in nonperformers, which has gotten investors concerned," he said.
The largest banking company to report Wednesday was Wells Fargo & Co., whose stock rose for most of the day but closed off 3.4%. The San Francisco company said that first-quarter net income rose 19% from a year earlier, to $2.38 billion, or 56 cents per share, after it paid preferred dividends.
Capital One Financial Corp.'s shares fell 4.5%. The McLean, Va., company said late Tuesday that it lost $111.9 million, or 45 cents a share, in the quarter.
Morgan Stanley fell 9%. The New York company said Wednesday its first-quarter net loss applicable to common shareholders was $578 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with net income of $1.31 billion, or $1.26 a share, a year earlier. Morgan also cut its dividend 80%, to 5 cents.
Other decliners Wednesday included Bank of America Corp., off 5.7%; JPMorgan Chase & Co., 1.9%; U.S. Bancorp, 8.4%; PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 5.8%, and SunTrust Banks Inc., 4.1%.
The broader markets also fluctuated, then closed in negative territory.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 1.04%, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index, 0.77%.