Healthy demand in a government auction of seven-year U.S. Treasury notes helped boost bank stocks for a second straight day.

The KBW Bank Index spent most of the day in the red until the last hour of trading, when word that the $24 billion offering had been well received lifted the sector. The index eked out a 0.5% gain. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 2.3%, as did the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

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