As bank stocks lost ground in late afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 50.74, or 0.7 percent, to 7,725.12.
Investors continued to push stock prices higher on Thursday. Traders were cautious ahead of comments by Treasury Secretary Tim Giethner but rallied after Gary Stren, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said the U.S. recession could end around mid02009.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 7924.56, up 174.75 points. It was the highest close for the index in six weeks. The Nasdaq composite index gained 58.05 points to 1587.00 and the S&P 500 stock index gained 18.98 points to 832.86.
The Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 are now up more than 20 percent since hitting a 12-year low on March 9.
The day began with news that the number of people filing to receive unemployment benefits rose for the tenth consecutive week to 652,000. And, the total number of people receiving jobless benefits rose to a record level for the sixth consecutive week.
Oil prices rose on Thursday despite more evidence of weakening global demand. Crude gained $1.58 to $54.35 a barrel.