Banking stocks rose slightly Tuesday on the release of promising data regarding home sales and economic growth.

The KBW Bank Index closed up 0.12%, at 43.36.

Financial stocks and the broader markets were buoyed by a report that existing-home sales rose a higher-than-expected 7.4% in November, for the fastest sales pace since early 2007. The Commerce Department also said the country's gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.2% in the third quarter. This was lower than a previous estimate of 2.8% but nevertheless showed that the economy was growing, not shrinking.

The overall markets reacted favorably to the news in a relatively slow trading day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.49%, and the S&P 500 index, 0.36%.

In banking news, the heads of a dozen small banks met on Tuesday with President Obama, a week after the heads of the country's largest lenders sat down with the president. Obama promised to help community lenders bolster lending to small businesses by cutting federal red tape.

Also, State Street Corp. agreed to buy the securities operations of Italy's Intesa Sanpaulo for $1.87 billion in a bid to expand its international reach. State Street's shares rose 3.79%.

The gainers for the day included Comerica Inc., 1.62%; M&T Bank Corp., 1.66%; Northern Trust Corp., 1.28%; Regions Financial Corp., 1.09%; Bank of America Corp., 0.33%, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., 0.1%.

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