Strength in large-cap bank stocks such as Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) on Wednesday wasn’t enough to lift financial sector exchange traded funds before the Federal Reserve announcement.

Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEArca: XLF) was flat in morning dealings but could see volatility in the afternoon as markets get the Fed’s view on interest rates and the economy. The sector fund is down about 5% so far this year with bank stocks pressured by a sluggish economy and regulatory concerns.

Traders have been using options contracts on a bank ETF to take a bullish stance on the sector before today’s Fed decision, an analyst said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the “bullish trend” in SPDR KBW Bank ETF (NYSEArca: KBE) options continued with sellers of puts observed, said Paul Weisbruch at Street One Financial.

Recently, call buyers in the bank ETF have been positioning for a rebound in the downtrodden sector. [Bank ETF Options Traders Look for Bounce]

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