Dow ends down 280 points after Credit Suisse woes reignite bank-sector angst
By Isabel Wang and Frances Yue
Swiss National Bank will provide Credit Suisse with liquidity if necessary: statement
U.S. stocks ended mostly lower Wednesday, but well off the session's worst levels, after concerns over the health of Credit Suisse sparked renewed banking-sector anxiety.
How stock indexes traded
On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 336 points, or 1.06%, to 32,155, the S&P 500 increased 64 points, or 1.65%, to 3,919, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 239 points, or 2.14%, to 11,428.
What drove markets
Major U.S. stock indexes finished mostly lower on Wednesday after the slump in shares of Credit Suisse stoked fears of broader banking sector issues following the fallout of U.S. banks Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the past week.
Nasdaq Composite ended higher, outperforming the broader market with shares of some of the most established technology companies jumping, as investors flocked to technology and semiconductor stocks in the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.
ADR shares (CSGN.EB) of the Switzerland-based Wall Street bank Credit Suisse ended nearly 14% lower on Wednesday, after Saudi National Bank, its largest investor, said publicly it would not provide further financial support for the bank.
Swiss authorities said in a statement later in the day that Credit Suisse meets the capital and liquidity requirements imposed on systemically important banks, but the national bank will provide additional liquidity if necessary.
The Swiss National Bank and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority also said that there are no indications of a direct risk of contagion for Swiss institutions due to the current turmoil in the U.S. banking sector.
See: Credit Suisse shares tumble to new record low as European banking sector reels
The volatility prompted an automatic pause in trading of the bank's shares on the Swiss market and pressured the rest of the European banking sector. The Euro STOXX banking index dropped 8.4%, with shares of major French banks Societe Generale declining by 12.2% and BNP Paribas fell 10.1%.
On Tuesday, Credit Suisse said in its annual report that it had material weaknesses in financial controls. The bank has lost money for five straight quarters, and its wealthy clients in the fourth quarter withdrew about $100 billion from the bank.
See: Regional and big bank stocks choppy amid rising fears of banking crisis
Meanwhile, U.S. economic data showed that sales at retailers fell 0.4% in February and declined for the third time in four months, pointing to a slowdown in consumer spending.
And wholesale prices dropped 0.1% in February. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast a rise of 0.3%. The core producer-price index, which excludes volatile food, energy and trade prices, went up 0.2% in February.
"Despite today's economic reports printing lower-than-expected numbers, the declines in both releases are not broad-based, which supports our belief that the Federal Reserve will raise rates by 25 basis points at the upcoming March meeting," noted Eugenio Aleman, chief economist at Raymond James, in a Wednesday note.
See:Credit Suisse fallout upsets Fed rate-hike expectations, with full percentage point of cuts seen by year-end
Markets expect the Fed will raise its policy interest rate by 25 basis points to a range of 4.7% to 5% at its meeting on March 21-22. Just two days ago, traders were betting the Fed could leave rates unchanged in order to soothe anxiety in the banking sector. However, ahead of the Silicon Valley Bank's fallout, the debate was a 25-basis-point or 50-basis-point increase to the federal-funds rate, according to CME FedWatch tool.
"What's going on right now is the market is saying: the Fed is not going to hike rates as much like [we expected] just a week ago," said Nancy Davis, founder of Quadratic Capital Management.
"The thing I would like to emphasize is investors should be buying inflation protected securities as part of the diversified portfolio. The market has complete confidence that the Fed rate hikes are going to get the job done and kill future inflation," Davis told MarketWatch in a phone interview on Wednesday. "But 6% CPI, whether it should be five or it should be three, is still way above [the 2% inflation target]."
See:Why SVB's 'safe' investment securities turned into a problem for banks
Treasury yields plunged on Wednesday with the yield on the 2-year Treasury diving almost 25 basis points to 3.973%, the lowest level since September 20, 2022, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Sharp movements in government yields pushed the ICE BofAML MOVE Index, a gauge of implied Treasury volatility, to a near 14-year high on Tuesday. A rising MOVE index has tended of late to pressure equities because the uncertainty in bonds makes it more difficult to value stocks.
Companies in focus
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March 15, 2023 16:27 ET (20:27 GMT)
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