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Friday's Bank Stocks: Jobs report no joke for market for bulls

Banksand thrifts ended the final session of the week higher on Friday, April 1, as themonthly jobs report fueled a rally for broader markets on the day.

The SNLU.S. Bank Index rose 0.63% to 383.78 and the SNL U.S. Thrift Index inched 0.01%higher to 788.19.

Marketswere boosted across the board by employment figures as the U.S. Labor Departmentsaid that nonfarm payroll employment increasedby 215,000 in March, while the unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.0%, accordingto the Labor Department's latest Employment Situation report. Estimates called formonth-over-month job gains in March of 210,000, while the consensus estimate forthe unemployment rate was 4.9%, according to Econoday data made available by Bloomberg.

"Thejobs number was very good — we got more added to payrolls than we expected, anda little more civilian employment," Robert Stein, the deputy chief economistwith First Trust Advisor LP, said during an interview. Though the unemployment rateticked up, Stein noted that this appeared to be a result of more workers enteringthe labor force — a phenomenon investors were likely to view positively.

Steinsaid First Trust expects the employment rate to level off at about its current levelin 2016 as better wage growth brings more workers back into the labor force. "That'snormal to natural in the mid to latter stages of an economic expansion," Steinsaid.

Broadermarkets opened lower but then surged into higher territory and held on to gainsby the close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.61% to 17,792.75, the S&P500 advanced 0.63% to 2,072.78 and the Nasdaq composite index added 0.92% to 4,914.54.

Large-capbank stocks mostly moved higher during trading. Citigroup Inc. shares were up 1.72% to $42.27, closed 1.10%higher to $59.87, Bank of America Corp.gained 0.30% to $13.56 and Wells Fargo& Co. edged 0.19% higher to $48.45.

added2.15% to $70.80, and PNC FinancialServices Group Inc. rose to $85.29, a 0.85% gain for the session.

climbed 1.28% to$112.42. The company announced on that its board authorized an $54 million in share repurchases.

Amongother major regional banks, SunTrustBanks Inc. was up 1.50% to $36.62 and Regions Financial Corp. was up 0.51% to $7.89 at the closeof trading.

sharesrose 9.35% to $23.62. According to a Schedule 13D filed March 31, David Sokol, MiddleburgFinancial's largest shareholder, sent a letter to the company's board asking itto establish a special committee of independent directors to initiate a processto explore strategic alternatives.

In othereconomic news, the final March reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentimentindex was 91.0, down from 91.7 in February, Bloomberg reported.

Amongthrifts, New York Community BancorpInc. slid 0.63% to $15.80, while TFS Financial Corp. (MHC) shares added 0.35% to $17.43

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