Banking stocks rose as Greece neared a resolution of its debt crisis and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke detailed plans to tighten monetary policy.
The KBW Bank Index rose 1.03%, to 45.04. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.20% and the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.22%.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Jefferies & Co., said traders appear to have bought into financials again after a sharp sell-off a couple of days ago. He said the European debt crisis that has weighed heavily on U.S. banks appears to be passing, and Bernanke's statement to the House Financial Services Committee injected "clarity" into the market.
Bernanke said the Fed would eventually start to tighten credit by raising the interest it pays to banks on money they deposit at the central bank.
"It makes sense that you are getting a bit of a rebound," Hogan said. "What Bernanke had to say certainly was a near-term positive for banks."
Hogan said the sector may have also been bolstered by Fifth Third Bancorp's announcement at a banking conference that it may repay its federal aid sometime this year.
Fifth Third rose 1.92%.
Other gainers for the day: JPMorgan Chase & Co., up 1.25%; Bank of America Corp., 1.38%; Wells Fargo & Co., 1.76%; and Citigroup Inc. rose 2 cents, to $3.20.
In regional banking, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. rose 0.43%; U.S. Bancorp, 0.51%; and SunTrust Banks Inc., 1.32%.