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Wednesday's Bank Stocks: Uncertainty from week's beginning overhangs trading

Uncertainty from unresolved issues earlier in the week cast a cloud over trading activity Wednesday, Dec. 6.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index declined 0.61% to 609.13, while the SNL U.S. Thrift Index declined 0.58% to 953.68. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.16% to 24,140.91, the S&P 500 declined 0.01% to 2,629.27 and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.21% to close at 6,776.38.

A recovery in technology stocks provided some afternoon relief, but was not enough to offset end-of-day selling. Markets had little news to go on during the day to alleviate some of the uncertainties from the beginning of the week. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were unable to vote on a stopgap spending measure after it was delayed by some GOP lawmakers, and the daunting task still lay before Congressional Republicans to reconcile the two houses' tax reform bills.

In banking legislation and reform, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, again took up the mantle of housing reform, this time laying out reform principles he could support, in a Dec. 6 speech. He focused on guiding principles for any proposed housing finance reform, which included the winding down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as requirements that mortgage securitizers would carry strong capital and that the Federal Housing Administration focus on serving first-time homebuyers and low- and moderate-income individuals.

And Republican U.S. senators teamed up with a number of moderate Democrats on Dec. 5 to advance a package bill that would reform portions of the postcrisis Dodd-Frank framework, such as doing away with the $50 billion threshold for enhanced prudential standards, despite protests from other Democrats that the bill would loosen the leash on misbehaving banks. The bill passed the Senate Banking Committee in a 16-7 vote and will now go to the Senate floor for chamber-wide consideration.

California's top insurance regulator accused Wells Fargo & Co. units of improper insurance sales practices and sought to suspend or revoke their licenses in the state; the bank is expected to file a notice of defense in the California matter. Shares ticked up 0.32% to $58.74.

Bank of America Corp. fell 1.04% to $28.63, Citigroup Inc. lost 1.55% to $75.35 and JPMorgan Chase & Co. dropped 0.75% to $104.93.

Heartland Financial USA Inc. grew 1.11% to $51.72, First BanCorp. expanded 0.40% to $5.02 and SunTrust Banks Inc. rose 0.64% to $64.44. Home BancShares Inc. declined 2.43% to $22.91, Banc of California Inc. fell 2.05% to $21.55 and Hilltop Holdings Inc. shrank 1.77% to $23.83.

S&P Dow Jones Indices and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

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