Morgan Stanley Rises: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bank stocks gained a bit more steam on Thursday following an increase in estimated second-quarter GDP growth and better-than-expected unemployment numbers.

Morgan Stanley ( MS) was the clear winner among major financial players, with shares rising 1.3% to close at $25.91.

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) rose 0.2% to close at 62.59 with all but seven of the 24 index components up for the session. Large banks seeing shares rise close to 1% included State Street of Boston ( STT), which closed at $67.22; KeyCorp ( KEY) of Cleveland, closing at $11.79; and Zions Bancorporation ( ZION) of Salt Lake City, which closed at $28.35.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 ( SPX.X) each ended with slight gains, while the NASDAQ Composite with a gain of 0.8%. The broad market was boosted by a report in the Wall Street Journal saying Verizon ( VZ) and Vodafone ( VOD) had rekindled their discussions over a possible Purchase by Verizon of Vodafone's 45% stake in Verizon Wireless.

Verizon's shares rose 3% to close at $47.82 while Vodafone's American depositary receipts rose 8% to close at $31.79.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis raised its estimate for second-quarter U.S. gross domestic product growth to an annual rate of 2.5%, increasing from the advance estimate of 1.7%, and coming in higher than the consensus estimate of a 2.2% growth rate, among economists polled by Thomson Reuters.

The Labor Department said first-time unemployment claims for the week ended Aug. 24 were down by 6,000 to 331,000. Economists on average expected new claims to come in at 332,000. Continuing claims for the week ended Aug. 17 were down by 14,000 to 2.989 million, coming in above the consensus estimate of 2.98 million.

Another Banner Quarter

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported that the U.S. banking industry earned a record $42.2 billion during the second quarter, increasing from $40.3 billion in the first quarter and $34.4 billion during the second quarter of 2012.

The industry's net interest income declined to $103.7 billion during the second quarter from $104.0 billion the previous quarter and $105.4 billion a year earlier. The industry's second-quarter net interest margin was 3.26%, declining from 3.27% in the second quarter and 3.46% a year earlier.

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