Bank stocks and the broader markets rose on encouraging economic news.
The KBW Bank Index rose 2.95%, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 2.12% and the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 2.33%.
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales of existing homes rose 3.6% in June compared with the previous month, to 4.89 million. Analysts on average had expected 4.84 million in sales.
Meanwhile, though the Labor Department posted higher-than-expected initial unemployment claims for the week that ended July 18, the total number of people collecting unemployment fell 1.4%, to 6.23 million.
Though there were gainers across the board Thursday, shares of a number of banking companies that reported second-quarter results declined. These included PNC Financial Services Group Inc., which fell, 4.3% and Huntington Bancshares Inc., which fell 19 cents, to $3.73.
However, shares of Fifth Third Bancorp rose 14.3%. The Cincinnati company reported a profit of $856 million, or $1.15 per diluted share, for the second quarter after paying preferred dividends. It credited the profit gain largely to a $1.8 billion gain on the sale of a processing unit.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 3.6%, Bank of America Corp. rose 3.8% and U.S. Bancorp rose 2.4%. Wells Fargo & Co. fell 0.8% and Citigroup Inc. fell 3 cents, to $2.77.