NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares in regional banks, whose profits are heavily affected by falling interest rates, have been battered these days. As geopolitical tensions in the Ukraine triggered a flight to safety, investors moved toward longer-dated bonds.
Regional banks, such as U.S. Bancorp (USB), PNC Financial Services (PNC), BB&T (BBT), SunTrust Banks (STI), Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB), M&T Bank (MTB), Regions Financial (RF) and KeyCorp (KEY), are weighted the most in the iShares Dow Jones US Regional Banks Index (IAT). The index, which ended at 35.11 on July 3, was trading Friday at 33.68.
The iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Index (TLT), which reflects prices of bonds with maturities more than 20 years, rose as investors were moving on the longer part of the yield curve to offset the impact of the tapering by the Federal Reserve. Bond prices move inversely to yields.
Diplomatic tensions spurred by the civil war in the Ukraine have also supported purchases of U.S. Treasury bonds, which are seen as a safe investment. Following reports that a Malaysian airliner crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Index spiked above 114, and will likely end the week above that level for the first time since May 2013. The plane crash and death of nearly 300 passengers and crew members have added to the ongoing tensions and make investors even more cautious.