Bank stocks ended the day higher after an unusually fidgety trading session, as investors tried to decide whether share prices fully reflect banks' exposure to global economic problems.

"At this point a certain amount of caution is not unwarranted," R. Harold Schroeder, banking analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, New York, said early in the day, when global banks were taking a beating. "As we come to the end of the year, people want to protect their gains and are also uneasy about what's happening overseas."

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