Financial stocks edged higher Thursday as the broader markets rose strongly on the easing of sovereign debt concerns and some better-than-expected employment figures.

The KBW Bank Index rose 0.07%, to 45.07.

Energy and materials stocks helped lift the broader markets as investors welcomed a pledge from European leaders to support debt-ridden Greece. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 440,000 last week, better than the 465,000 claims economists were expecting. The Obama administration also said it expects nonfarm employment to increase an average of 95,000 jobs a month this year, a sign of economic stability.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.06% and the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.38%.

Large and midsize banks had a mixed day as the Congressional Oversight Panel warned that the industry could face $300 billion in commercial real estate losses in coming years.

Some large names were off slightly, including Bank of America Corp., down 0.27%; BB&T Corp., 0.66%; U.S. Bancorp, 0.51%; and Wells Fargo & Co., 0.37%.

They were offset by Fifth Third Bancorp, up 1.54%; Comerica Inc., 1.21%; and State Street Corp., 1.05%.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 0.39% and Citigroup Inc. rose a penny, to $3.21.

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