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Midday Thursday: Bank stocks, jobless claims dip

U.S. bank and thrift stocks continued to dip during Thursday's morning trading, Dec. 29, after Wednesday's close.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index fell 0.99% to 530.52, and the SNL U.S. Thrift Index slid 0.49% to 966.23, around midday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.02% to 19,828.91, the Nasdaq composite index dropped 0.20% to 5,427.41, and the S&P 500 fell 0.04% to 2,248.98.

In economic news, the week ended Dec. 24 saw a decrease of 10,000 in unemployment insurance claims, with the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims hitting 265,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The previous week's unrevised level was 275,000. in addition, the four-week moving average was 263,000, compared to the previous week's unrevised average of 263,750.

Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that the average fixed mortgage rates continued to rise for the ninth consecutive week. The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.32% with an average 0.5 point for the week ending Dec. 29, an increase from last week when it averaged 4.30%. The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage this week averaged 3.55% with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.52%.

The nation's biggest banks were also trading lower. JPMorgan Chase & Co. dipped 1.08% to $85.57, Bank of America Corp. was down 1.46% to $22.00, Citigroup Inc. slid 1.35% to $59.23 and Wells Fargo & Co. fell 1.00% to $54.77.

Diana Duenas-Brown, a former branch manager of Wells Fargo, is suing the company, alleging she was harassed by superiors after alerting company executives regarding improper sales activities, as fallout from its illegal-accounts scandal continues, The (San Jose, Calif.) Mercury News reported.

Among notable movers in the banking industry, New Orleans-based First NBC Bank Holding Co. lost 3.82% to $6.93, Richmond, Va.-based Community Bankers Trust Corp. declined 2.10% to $7.00 and San Juan, Puerto Rico-based First BanCorp. dropped 2.89% to $6.71.

In the thrift space, Westbury, N.Y.-based New York Community Bancorp Inc. was down 0.66% to $15.74; San Diego-based BofI Holding Inc. slid 1.14% to $28.73; and Lake Success, N.Y.-based Astoria Financial Corp. added 0.22% to $18.51.

Market prices and index values are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change.