Bank stocks and the broader markets were lifted Tuesday by a spate of positive economic news.

The KBW Bank Index rose 1.44%, the Dow Jones industrial average 0.59%, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index 0.31%.

The Census Bureau said that August retail sales rose 2.7% from July; economists on average had expected a 2% gain. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said that business inventories fell 1% in July, more than the 0.9% that economists on average had expected. Sales rose 0.1% in July.

"Retailers have been successful in slashing inventories to better align with sales in the persistently weak consumer environment," Wells Fargo Securities economists wrote in a note Tuesday. "However, there is still some progress to be made as evidenced by the still-elevated ratio of inventories to sales for the industry."

Gainers included Wells Fargo & Co., up 2.4%; PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 5.8%; U.S. Bancorp, 1%; SunTrust Banks Inc., 2.8%; BB&T Corp., 3.3%; Marshall and Ilsley Corp., 7.5%; Comerica Inc., 4.6%; Regions Financial Corp., 10%, and Zions Bancorp., 10.8%.

Decliners included JPMorgan Chase & Co., off 1.3%; Bank of America Corp., 1.2%, and Capital One Financial Corp., 2.4%.

Citigroup Inc. fell 40 cents a share, to $4.12, after new reports that the government might start selling some of its 7.7 billion shares in the New York company. Citi may also sell about $5 billion in new stock to partially buy back other Citi securities owned by the government.

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