NEW YORK (
) -- Stocks traded within a tight range and finished with marginal gains Wednesday, highlighted by improving bank shares and the strengthening
, after investors digested an unexpected dip in wholesale inventories.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
added 3 points, or 0.03%, to 10,567, while the
gained 5 points, or 0.5%, at 1146. The Nasdaq became the best performer of the day among the major indices, going ahead by 18 points, or 0.8%, at 2359.
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In the afternoon, the government said the difference between its outlays and receipts grew more disparate during February. The Treasury report showed the budget deficit widened to a record $220.9 billion last month. At the same time last year, the deficit stood at $193.9 billion. Still, the gap came in about as expected, as analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters anticipated a rise to $222 billion during the month.
Shares in the materials sector dwindled on the day, though financial shares were among the better performers, with the KBW Bank index moving 2.2% higher.
(C - Get Report)
closed up 14 cents, or 3.7%, to $3.96, as the company launched a sale of up to $2 billion worth of trust-preferred securities that were seeing high demand, according to reports suggesting that orders have exceeded $5 billion.
Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners, considers Citigroup a "very good idea for long-term investors."
"I think there are a lot of firms that are underinvested in Citigroup, and I think the long-term prospects for Citigroup are very attractive -- especially when you look at
and the fact that they're looking to buy a bank in the U.S.," he said.
American International Group
shares also soared 10.6%, likely helped by a short squeeze
Tech stocks led, as demonstrated by the 2.2% jump in the Philadelphia Semiconductor index.
paced much of the uptick on the chip index, advancing 4.9% following some upbeat comments from analysts.
On the Nasdaq,
(GOOG - Get Report)
opened an online store for integrated applications called the Google Apps Marketplace. News outlets also reported that CEO Eric Schmidt suggested a solution to the company's imbroglio with China may be nearing. Shares added $16.26, or 2.9%, at $576.45.