Bank stocks traded in a narrow range Monday as investors nervously awaited the release of a trio of economic reports this week.
Unemployment, July payrolls, and manufacturing reports are all scheduled to be issued this week.
If the reports show strength in the economy, that could be a sign the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates at its Aug. 20 meeting.
In anticipation of that event, bond prices fell, with the yield on the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond, which moves in the opposite direction from the price, rising six basis points in midday trading, to 7.07%.
"Everybody is holding back today," said R. Harold Schroeder, a bank analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
The market has been rattled by unexpectedly high employment figures the last few months, he said, so investors are very nervous about the July report, to be released Friday.
The Standard & Poor's index of major banks fell 0.50% while the S&P 500 index fell 0.79%.
Among the banks, Bank of Boston Corp. fell 50 cents, to $52.375. The bank announced it had completed its previously announced merger with BayBanks Inc.
Under terms of the $2 billion agreement, BayBanks shareholders received 2.2 shares of Bank of Boston for each share of their stock. The combined entity has been named BankBoston Corp.
Shares of Cal Fed Bancorp rose $1.25, to $22.625, after the company agreed to be sold to First Nationwide Holdings Inc. (See story on page 1.)
Chase Manhattan Corp., shares fell $1.25, to $67.875. Citicorp shares fell 25 cents, to $80.375 in heavy trading.