Banking stocks slipped Wednesday even as a report showed employment stabilizing.
The KBW Bank Index fell 0.4%, to 47.36.
Joe Saluzzi, co-head of trading at Themis Trading LLC, said that trading in the financial sector was anemic as investors sat on the sidelines awaiting developments that could affect banks.
"It was pretty flat, to be honest with you," he said.
Investors shrugged off a report from payroll company ADP that employers cut a less-than-expected 20,000 private jobs in February. The Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book survey showing modest improvement in the economy last month also failed to create a stir, he said.
"There was really nothing new today," Saluzzi said. "It was almost a snoozer.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.09%, but the S&P 500 index rose 0.04%.
Banking shares were mixed.
M&T Bank Corp fell 2.37% a day after one of its major investors, Allied Irish Banks PLC, said it may sell some assets to raise capital. Allied owns about 23% of M&T.
Bank of America Corp. fell 0.49%; JPMorgan Chase & Co., 0.22%; U.S. Bancorp, 0.36%, and SunTrust Banks Inc., 0.27%
Gainers included Regions Financial Corp., up 0.15%; PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 0.45%, and Wells Fargo & Co., 1.18%.
Citigroup Inc. and KeyCorp were unchanged.