A strong showing by some regional banks' stocks helped send the financial sector higher Wednesday even as the broader markets fell on disappointing economic reports.

The KBW Bank Index rose 0.48%, to 52.

Regions Financial Corp. was among the day's biggest gainers, with the departing chief executive, Dowd Ritter, slated to be succeeded Thursday by company President Grayson Hall. Its shares rose 3.02%.

Other regional banks that climbed notably included Fifth Third Bancorp, up 2.22%, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 1.72%, and SunTrust Banks Inc., 1.71.%.

They stood in contrast to the companies in other sectors whose stocks fell after a report from the payroll services company ADP that private-sector employers cut jobs in March. Some economists were expecting job gains.

A separate report showed that manufacturing activity in Chicago fell more than expected in March.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.47%, and the S&P 500 index 0.33%.

Other large and midsize banking company stocks were mixed.

Bank of America Corp. rose 0.51%; BB&T Corp., 1.31%; Comerica Inc., 0.48%, and Wells Fargo & Co., 0.91%.

KeyCorp fell 0.13%; M&T Bank Corp., 0.48%; State Street Corp., 1.4%, and Citigroup Inc. 4 cents a share, to $4.05.

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