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Midday Thursday: Bank stocks rise slightly amid labor data, Powell speech

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Midday Thursday: Bank stocks rise slightly amid labor data, Powell speech

U.S. bank and thrift stocks were trading marginally higher during morning trading Thursday, amid a slew of economic reports and a speech from Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index added 0.20% to 512.43, and the SNL Thrift Index increased 0.22% to 875.38. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.14% to 21,038.68, the Nasdaq composite index increased 0.28% to 6,215.72, and the S&P 500 gained 0.24% to 2,417.51.

After a speech at the Economic Club of New York, Powell said the Fed is not considering the potential economic effects of tax reform as the central bank debates monetary policy for 2017.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. added 0.41% to $82.49, Bank of America Corp. increased 0.19% to $22.45, Wells Fargo & Co. rose 0.53% to $51.41, while Citigroup Inc. slid 0.02% to $60.53.

In Utah, American Fork-based People's Utah Bancorp is buying St. George-based Town & Country Bank Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $20.9 million. People's Utah Bancorp was trading 2.15% higher to $26.15 around midday today.

Customers Bancorp Inc. was down 0.72% to $27.75. The company's sale of BankMobile to Flagship Community Bank hit a roadblock — the buyer was unable to raise the required capital to close the purchase.

Among other price movers in the banking scene, First Guaranty Bancshares Inc. slumped 8.78% to $22.80, Sterling Bancorp advanced 2.10% to $21.90, and First Interstate BancSystem Inc. climbed 2.29% to $35.72.

In the thrift space, Astoria Financial Corp. gained 2.32% to $18.93, and BofI Holding Inc. advanced 1.17% to $22.46.

In economic reports, initial claims for unemployment insurance in the U.S. rose by 13,000, to 248,000, after seasonal adjustments for the week that ended May 27, compared with the prior week's revised level of 235,000, data from the U.S. Department of Labor showed.

Private-sector employment increased by 253,000 jobs in May, from April, with professional and business services seeing the strongest monthly job growth since 2014, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce reported that construction spending for April was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,218.5 billion, 1.4% lower than the revised March estimate of $1,235.5 billion. The April figure is 6.7% above the April 2016 estimate of $1,142.5 billion.

Freddie Mac, citing the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, reported that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.94% with an average 0.5 point for the week ending June 1, down from the previous week when it averaged 3.95%. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.19% with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week.

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