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Thursday's Bank Stocks: Down amid low holiday trading volumes

Bank stocks, along with the broader markets, were mostly down Thursday, Dec. 22, amid low trading volumes and new economic data.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index fell 0.06% to 538.57, while the SNL U.S. Thrift Index gained 0.11% to 967.51. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.12% to 19,918.88, the S&P 500 lost 0.19% to 2,260.96 and the Nasdaq composite index declined 0.44% to 5,447.42.

Kevin Nicholson, chief market strategist at RiverFront Investment Group, said the market is ready to take its first real "breather" since the election.

"As the year draws to a close, because volumes are down and most people have started taking the holiday season off, I think you're going to see it might be slightly down," Nicholson said. "When you look, the things that have run since the election, like consumer discretionary and financials, those things are down today. ... I just think the market has run pretty rapidly anticipating the infrastructure build of the new administration's policies."

Large-caps were mixed for the day. Wells Fargo & Co. gained 0.07% to $55.75, JPMorgan Chase & Co. added 0.16% to $86.89, Citigroup Inc. lost 0.43% to $60.49 and Bank of America Corp. slid 0.40% to $22.54.

Among other notable movers, Capital One Financial Corp. lost 1.38% to $89.19, Eagle Bancorp Inc. gained 1.69% to $63.30, Sterling Bancorp added 1.05% to $24.00 and FCB Financial Holdings Inc. gained 1.16% to $47.80.

In thrifts, OceanFirst Financial Corp. added 2.31% to $30.07. Astoria Financial Corp. fell 1.11% to $18.72 following Tuesday's news that the company and New York Community Bancorp Inc. mutually agreed to terminate their merger. New York Community Bancorp lost 0.13% to $15.91.

In economic news, real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Real GDP increased by 1.4% in the second quarter.

"I think it's definitely positive for the market, but again, I think that right now with not many people being around, the market is just going to remain range-bound," Nicholson added. "I think that most people's expectations were for GDP to grow at about 3.3%, so it was slightly above expectations of what consensus estimates were. So, that's a good sign and means that we're headed in the right direction and kind of validates why the Fed raised interest rates."

The advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 275,000 for the week ending Dec. 17, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 254,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The four-week moving average was 263,750, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's unrevised average of 257,750.

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