BOSTON (AP) -- Shares of big banks rallied on Tuesday, lifted by data on U.S. housing that suggests the sluggish market is slowly recovering.
The National Association of Realtors said U.S. home sales and prices rose last month.
Banks help finance mortgages and look to the housing market to contribute to overall economic growth. Homebuilder stocks, such as PulteGroup Inc. and KB Home, also gained on the report.
The NAR said Tuesday that sales of previously owned homes rose 3.4 percent in April. The median sales price rose 10.1 percent from a year ago.
Home sales are still well below the level that economists equate with healthy markets. But the April report was a hopeful sign that the market is gradually improving nearly five years after the housing bubble burst.
Shares of U.S. banks on Tuesday were also bolstered by strong gains in global markets ahead of an informal meeting of European leaders Wednesday that's expected to be dominated by calls to boost economic growth.
The debt crisis in several European countries, particularly Greece, has driven trading for many months. Analysts have said that if Greece, wracked by recession, leaves the euro currency bloc, the balance sheets of big banks could suffer.
Calls to promote economic growth, not just focus on cutting government spending, could help keep Greece in the euro.
In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent, as did the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
Among major banks, shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. posted the biggest gain. The stock added $1.66, or 5.1 percent, to $34.17 in afternoon trading.
However, JPMorgan shares remained about 16 percent below their closing price on May 10, when CEO Jamie Dimon disclosed that the bank had made an ill-timed bet on complex financial instruments that led to a $2 billion-plus trading loss.
On Tuesday, the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said the loss should be a lesson for regulators to tighten rules mandated under the 2010 financial overhaul.
Worries about increased regulation hurting banks' future profits have also weighed on bank stocks since JPMorgan's announcement.
Here's a look at the gains for shares of other major banks in afternoon trading Tuesday:
—Citigroup Inc. added 87 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $27.12.
—Morgan Stanley rose 41 cents or 3.1 percent, to $13.60.
—Bank of America Corp. increased 20 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $7.03.
—Wells Fargo & Co. added 67 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $32.07.
— Goldman Sachs Group Inc. climbed $1.82, or 1.9 percent, to $98.33.