Fed Rate Hike Speculation Help Buoy Bank ETFs

While the rest of the equities market plunged, bank stocks and sector-related exchange traded funds were partially supported by the notion that a Federal Reserve rate hike could help improve profit margins.

On Friday, the iShares U.S. Regional Banks ETF (NYSEArca: IAT) was down 0.4%, SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (NYSEArca: KRE) was 0.5% lower, PowerShares KBW Regional Bank Portfolio (NYSEArca: KBWR) fell 0.2 and First Trust NASDAQ ABA Community Bank Index Fund (NasdaqGM: QABA) dipped 0.4% after trading in the positive earlier in the day. QABA also saw trading volumes jump almost three times its daily average. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 declined 2.0%.

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Bank stocks found some support after the usually dovish Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said that a “reasonable case can be made” for tightening interest rates to avoid an overheating economy, the Wall street Journal reports.

Trading volume was also elevated, which suggested that market players believe a rate hike is a real possibility.

“Today’s volume is notable because it shows people are putting money behind these moves,” Justin Wiggs, managing director in equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus, told the WSJ.