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Wednesday's Bank Stocks: 'Head-scratcher' economic data giving market pause

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Wednesday's Bank Stocks: 'Head-scratcher' economic data giving market pause

Bank and thrift stocks were down Wednesday, May 4, after a mixof economic data that was a "head-scratcher," one analyst said.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index fell 1.79% to 395.13 while the SNL U.S.Thrift Index was down 0.55% to 781.60. The S&P 500 was down 0.59% to 2,051.12while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.56% to 17,651.26 and the Nasdaq compositeindex decreased 0.79% to 4,725.64.

In economic news, mortgage applications fell 3.4% in the week ended April 29 compared to the previousweek on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.The market composite index, which measures mortgage loan application volume, dropped3% week over week on an unadjusted basis.

Private sector employment increased by 156,000 jobs in April, according to the ADP National EmploymentReport. Small businesses recorded the largest increases in April, adding 93,000employees. Medium businesses added 39,000 jobs and large businesses added 24,000jobs in the month.

Kim Forrest, an analyst at Fort Pitt Capital, said Wednesday'seconomic data was giving the market pause before Friday's job numbers.

"We don't see any indication from these numbers that theFed would be willing to raise rates, and that is probably the most important thingthat's driving financial stocks at this moment," she said.

Among the big banks, Bankof America Corp., JPMorganChase & Co. and CitigroupInc. are among seven banks that reached a settlement in a U.S. lawsuit that alleged theymanipulated interest rate benchmark ISDAfix from 2009 to 2012, Reuters reportedMay 3.

Bank of America fell 1.60% to $14.13, while JPMorgan decreased1.58% to $61.57 and Citi dropped 2.00% to $44.66.

Wells Fargo &Co., which is one of the remaining defendants in the lawsuit,was down 2.12% to $48.94.

In M&A news, Short Hills, N.J.-based Investors Bancorp Inc. increased 0.26% to $11.46 after itsigned a $154 millionstock-and-cash deal to purchase Princeton, N.J.-based Bank of Princeton.

Wheeling, W.Va.-based WesBancoInc. agreed to acquire New Albany, Ind.-based Your Community Bankshares Inc. in a cash-and-stock deal valuedat about $39.05 per share, or $221.0million. WesBanco inched forward 0.31% to $31.90 while Your CommunityBankshares jumped 11.38% to $37.59.

Among movers, Fresno, Calif.-based Central Valley Community Bancorp rose 4.84% to $13.00 whileJohnstown, Pa.-based AmeriServ FinancialInc. increased 6.56% to $3.25.

Little Rock, Ark.-based Bankof the Ozarks Inc. fell 4.41% to $37.69 after Muddy Waters Researchfounder Carson Block gave a negativeanalysis of the bank at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York.

In thrifts, Lake Success, N.Y.-based Astoria Financial Corp. was down 0.94% to $14.69 while Cleveland-basedTFS Financial Corp. (MHC)fell 0.39% to $18.10.

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