Stocks rose late to finish Monday's session with a small gain following two strong weeks as investors bought bank shares that had lagged in the recent rally.

Better-than-expected data on new home sales underpinned financial stocks, the session's strongest sector, as investors snapped up the shares of several regional banks, which had been among the worst hit by credit losses tied to a weak housing market.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 15.27 points, or 0.17 percent, to finish unofficially at 9,108.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.92 points, or 0.30 percent, to end unofficially at 982.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 1.93 points, or 0.10 percent, to close unofficially at 1,967.89.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)