Credit Suisse bonds lead rout in bank, financial company debt
By Joy Wiltermuth
Credit Suisse stock falls to $2.16 in New York trading and its convertible bonds sink to 36 cents on the dollar
Bonds issued by banks and financial institutions were under pressure on Wednesday as Credit Suisse woes rekindled worries about a banking crisis.
Credit Suisse U.S. stock (CSGN.EB) fell about 13.9% to $2.16 per share in trading Wednesday, while its shares in Europe dipped below the 2 franc level, after the bank's top shareholder, Saudi National Bank, told Bloomberg it wasn't able to invest any more capital into the bank.
Saudi National Bank Chairman Ammar al-Khudairy also told Reuters it was a regulatory issue, saying it couldn't exceed its 10% threshold.
Along with selling in Credit Suisse shares, investors in its bank debt also remained on edge. Credit Suisse-issued 5% coupon debt due July 2027 was changing hands at an average price of 82 cents on the dollar, for a yield of about 10.3%, per MarketAxess, down from a one-year low of a 5.2% yield and 99.5 cents on the dollar. Bond yields and price move in opposite directions.
The backdrop for the Swiss bank's convertible debt looked more grim, with its 9.75% coupon "co-co" bonds due June 2027 pegged at an average price of about 36 cents on the dollar, according to MarketAxess. Wall Street broadly considers bonds trading below 70 cents on the dollar as distressed.
Co-co bonds, or contingent convertibles, carry a strike price that can convert to stock when triggered.
A Credit Suisse spokeswoman declined to comment.
U.S. stocks initially traded sharply lower Wednesday, but closed off the session's lows after the Swiss National Bank issued a statement saying it would provide Credit Suisse with liquidity, if necessary
Credit Suisse CEO Ulrich Koerner said the bank had a liquidity capital ratio of 144% at the at the end of Q4, "which is a strong ratio, and which has improved through this quarter to 150% on average," on Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.
He also said that being a globally systemically important bank means that it has been following higher standards when it comes to capital funding and liquidity than was required of Silicon Valley Bank.
Switzerland's central bank also said Wednesday that there were no indications of a direct risk of contagion for Swiss institutions due to turmoil in the U.S. banking system.
For big U.S. banks, bonds issued by JPMorgan Chase and Co., (JPM) Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were about 13 to 15 basis points wider on a spread basis, according to MarketAxess. Bonds issued by UBS Group (UBS) were wider by about 22 basis points.
Wider bond spreads signal that investors want more compensation, above a risk-free benchmark like Treasurys , to help offset market turmoil or default risks.
Shares of regional banks also remained under pressure since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SIVB) and New York's Signature Bank (SBNY), prompting regulators to fully backstop their bank deposits. The Federal Reserve also opened up an emergency lending facility to help shore up any liquidity needs at banks.
Read:Why SVB's 'safe' investment securities turned into a problem for banks
The S&P 500 index declined 0.7% Wednesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.1%.
See: First Republic Bank downgraded to 'junk' by S&P and Fitch on fears further deposit flight will hurt profitability
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March 15, 2023 18:01 ET (22:01 GMT)
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