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Wednesday's Bank Stocks: Bank stocks rise as Yellen talks easing regulations

U.S. bank and thrift stocks rose Nov. 29 as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen mentioned potential to ease small bank regulations in her last scheduled testimony before Congress.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index rose 0.13% to 591.89, and the SNL U.S. Thrift Index rose 0.74% to 957.13. The broader markets closed mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 0.44% to 23,940.68, the S&P 500 slipping 0.04% to 2,626.07 and the Nasdaq composite index dipping 1.27% to 6,824.39.

In her remarks to Congress, Yellen said she supported a bipartisan bill proposed by senators earlier this month that would reduce regulations for smaller banks. The bill would exempt banks with less than $10 billion in total assets from complying with the Volcker rule.

Yellen also, however, criticized a portion of the same bill that would increase the asset threshold for enhanced prudential standards from $50 billion to $250 billion. She said it is important that banks with at least $100 billion in assets are regulated more scrupulously.

The Fed chair's colleagues San Francisco Fed Bank President John Williams and New York Fed Bank President William Dudley also spoke today. In a keynote speech, Williams said he expected inflation to rise in 2018 and steady rate hikes to continue. Dudley spoke on financial stability, saying he felt there was little risk of an asset bubble currently. Dudley also said the Fed was exploring using its own digital currency, although he has criticized digital currency bitcoin in the past.

Big winners for the day were Customers Bancorp Inc., FCB Financial Holdings Inc. and Banc of California Inc., which rose 6.17% to $28.40, 5.40% to $52.70 and 4.77% to $23.05, respectively. FCB Financial announced a deal Nov. 27 to acquire fellow Florida-based Floridian Community Holdings Inc.

There were no significant laggards among bank or thrift stocks.

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.