Stocks rallied on Monday, with the broad S&P 500 index up more than 2 percent as bullish comments on financials from analyst Meredith Whitney lifted hopes that the bank sector's results may be stronger than expected.

In comments to CNBC television after her upgrade of Goldman Sachs' stock to buy, Whitney said bank shares were set for a short-term rally.

Comments from Whitney, who has in the past been more bearish, offset concerns that CIT Group Inc , a lender to many small- and mid-sized businesses, was struggling to stay afloat.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 148.96 points, or 1.83 percent, to 8,295.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> jumped 17.29 points, or 1.97 percent, to 896.42. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 29.99 points, or 1.71 percent, to 1,786.02.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)