NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America ( BAC) on Wednesday was the loser among the largest U.S. financial names on Thursday, with shares declining 1% to close at $9.24. The broad indexes ended with slight gains, after the National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index rose by a smaller-than-expected 0.3% in September after falling 2.6% in August amid a decline in the Midwest by 5.8%. The consensus expectation among economists was for pending new home sales to rise 2.1% in September, according to Briefing.com. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said that "home contract activity remains at an elevated level in contrast with recent years, but currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range," meaning that "only minor movement is likely in near-term existing-home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013." The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial jobless claims in the week ended Oct. 20 totaled 369,000, declining by 23,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 392,000. The four-week moving average was 368,000, an increase of 1,500 from the previous week's revised average of 366,500. Continuing unemployment claims for the week ended Oct. 13 were 3.254 million, a decrease of 2,000 from the prior week's upwardly revised level of 3.256 million. Deutsche Bank analyst David Bianco wrote Thursday morning that following the broad market declines on Tuesday and Wednesday, investors were at "a fair S&P 500 ( SPX.X) entry point." "Third quarter global deceleration has brought the worst earnings season since the recession," Bianco said, although "sales growth is actually respectable, given
foreign exchange headwinds, which should stop." According to the analyst, "on a current constituent basis (apples to apples), S&P 500 y/y sales growth should be 2-3%." Bianco also said that "Banks and Tech are our preferred high dividend growth plays," although "the concern about what is likely to be ongoing net interest margin compression at banks is valid. Unless loan growth significantly accelerates, it will be hard for banks without capital markets exposure to grow EPS next year. KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) on Thursday rose 1% to close at 49.70, with all but four of the 24 index components rising for the session.