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Why Regional Banks Pulled Back Today

By Brian D. Pacampara, CFA - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:38PM

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Is this meaningful? Or just another movement?

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of regional bank stocks like Regions Financial (RF 1.57%), SunTrust Banks (STI), and Zions Bankcorp (ZION 1.29%) all sank about 3% today on the Federal Reserve's move not to wind down its bond-buying program this month.

So what: The sector has soared over the past year on the expectation of steadily rising rates, but Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's decision not to taper is prompting investors to take some dough off the table. After all, regional banks benefit greatly from higher rates because they charge more for loans, so the Fed's surprise move suggests the group will be posting lower profits and for longer a period of time than Wall Street had expected.

Now what: I wouldn't be so quick to play the regional banks for a short-term rebound. Even with today's decline, the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF is still up about 35% over its 52-week highs, and there's no guarantee the Fed will start to taper anytime soon. Of course, for conservative Fools with some patience, today's pullback might be providing an opportunity to scoop up some larger, less interest-rate-sensitive -- and therefore less risky -- regionals like U.S. Bancorp and BB&T for the long term.

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Regions Financial Corporation Stock Quote
Regions Financial Corporation
RF
$21.35 (1.57%) $0.33
SunTrust Banks, Inc. Stock Quote
SunTrust Banks, Inc.
STI
Zions Bancorporation Stock Quote
Zions Bancorporation
ZION
$54.00 (1.29%) $0.69

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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