Stocks extended gains on Thursday even although a government report showed new home sales fell to a record low in January.

Bank shares were a standout following news the Obama administration may request money to shore up banks. Shares of Citigroup rose 6 percent to $2.67 and Bank of America gained 11 percent to $5.73. The S&P Financial index <.GSPF> climbed 4.9 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 61.09 points, or 0.84 percent, to 7,331.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 7.29 points, or 0.95 percent, to 772.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 4.12 points, or 0.29 percent, to 1,429.55.

(Editing by James Dalgleish)