Banks and financial stocks were for the most part higher Thursday after investors received a new series of mixed earnings from the sector. The KBW Bank Index added 3.7%. The strongest performer on the Dow, American Express ( AXP), rose 7.9% ahead of its quarterly report and continued that trend after the close. Among other winners for the day, Wells Fargo ( WFC) gained 10.5% to $20.09, and Credit Suisse ( CS) rose 16.6% to $38.47 after the bank swung to a greater-than-expected profit of about $1.72 billion.
Fifth Third Bancorp ( FITB) and PNC ( PNC) added 3.5% and 7.5%, respectively, after their results. PNC said net income jumped 38% to $530 million from a year ago thanks to its acquisition of National City, while Fifth Third surprised investors with a narrower-than-expected loss. In other earnings, SunTrust Banks ( STI) posted a second consecutive quarterly loss, but it topped expectations, factoring out a goodwill charge. Deposit growth and higher mortgage lending helped to offset charges resulting from the troubled real estate market, but bad loans continued to increase for the bank. Shares lost 3.3% to $14.89. Synovus Financial ( SNV) shares sank 19.7% to $3.26, after the company posted a larger-than-expected first-quarter loss and was hit with a downgrade from Moody's. CIT Group ( CIT) plummeted 21% to $2.78 after the company reported a widened loss and suspended its dividend. Morgan Stanley ( MS) and Citigroup ( C) were also on the losing end, giving up 2.1% and 1.4%, respectively. Elsewhere, Bank of America ( BAC) rose 6.8% to $8.82 after making headlines unrelated to earnings. BofA CEO Ken Lewis testified that he was urged by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former head of the U.S. Treasury Henry Paulson to keep quiet as arrangements were made for his bank's acquisition of troubled brokerage Merrill Lynch, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. On Friday, regulators will begin briefing banks about how they fared in the so-called stress tests, which gauged the health of the biggest 19 banks in the nation. The government will afford lenders the opportunity to debate the findings before they're made public in the coming days, according to media reports earlier this week.