Updated from 2:34 p.m. EDT

Bank stocks led the market higher on Wednesday amid signs of improvement in economic data, and as international financial leaders convened to discuss a post-crisis regulatory framework.

Stocks brushed off news of General Motors' ( GM) potential bankruptcy, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 106 points, or 2%. Shares of Citigroup ( C), American Express ( AXP) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) were the leading components.

Citi gained 15 cents, or 5.9%, to $2.68; AmEx rose 99 cents, or 7.4%, to $14.44; JPMorgan added $1.56, or 5.9%, to $28.14. Other components with financial exposure like Bank of America ( BAC) and General Electric ( GE) were also in positive territory, with BofA up 23 cents, or 3.4%, at $7.05, and GE rising 6 cents, or 0.6%, to $10.17.

There was little major news directly affecting the financial stocks except economic data showing that a slowdown in factory activity has moderated, and home sales have risen amid a major decline in mortgage rates. In London, financial leaders discussed regulatory perspectives at the G-20 meetings, while President Barack Obama attempted to play down sharp disparities that have emerged in recent days.

Patrick Mortimer, head of Morgan Stanley's ( MS) U.S. prime brokerage business, became the latest high-profile investment banker to leave a public firm, according to the Wall Street Journal. The news didn't put a dent in Morgan Stanley shares, which sailed 96 cents, or 4.2%, to $23.73. Competitor Goldman Sachs ( GS) also climbed $4.27, or 4%, to $110.29.

Among the losing financial stocks was MasterCard ( MA), which agreed to charge lower fees to European customers in exchange for the European Union dropping a case against the credit-card transaction processor. Shares of MasterCard, which is still appealing the case, dropped $7.40, or 4.4%, to $160.08.

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