Bank stocks struggled to remain in positive territory Monday, after investors cashed in gains from last week's rallies.

The KBW Bank Index closed up 0.18%.

Anthony Polini, an analyst with Raymond James & Associates, wrote in a note Monday that, while the initial stages of economic recovery should be weak given the high levels of unemployment and a soft housing market, the environment could prove to be "very opportunistic" for healthier banks.

"A pickup in economic activity, low competition, a steep yield curve and declining credit costs all bode well for banks that have their offensive games intact," Polini wrote. "The stronger banks should be able to increase leverage, accelerate" earnings-per-share "growth, and maintain relatively wide spreads."

Decliners included Wells Fargo & Co., which fell 0.4%, PNC Financial Services Group Inc., 3.1%, U.S. Bancorp, 1%, SunTrust Banks Inc., 0.4%, Capital One Financial Corp., 0.7% and KeyCorp, 3.4%.

Gainers included JPMorgan Chase & Co., which rose 0.8%, Bank of America Corp., 1.6%, BB&T Corp., 0.4%, Marshall & Ilsley Corp., 1%, Zions Bancorp., 5.2%, and Citigroup Inc., which rose 9 cents, to $3.94.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.34% and the Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.33%.

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