A resurgent consumer sector propelled banking activity to robust gains in March, according to the latest reading of American Banker's Index of Banking Activity (IBA).

The IBA Composite index recorded a reading of 61.1 in March, up from a 58.0 reading in February. The March score was the second highest posted by the index, trailing only a 61.6 reading tallied in March, 2013.

March's relative strength was most pronounced in the index components that track consumer-lending applications and approvals. In addition, responses to the IBA monthly survey indicate that loan-pricing trends, on balance, continued to move in favor of lenders in the month.

In recent months, the IBA had pointed to banking activity that was spotty at best, with pockets of strength and relative weakness shifting from region to region each month. In contrast, March saw all four of the index's geographic regions report solid momentum, with month-to-month sentiment improving most markedly in the Midwest and the South.