U.S. stocks end sharply higher as First Republic gets rescue from banks
By William Watts and Joseph Adinolfi
Nasdaq Composite on track for best week of 2023
U.S. stocks ended sharply higher Thursday as an agreement by a group of big banks to deposit $30 billion with troubled lender First Republic Bank helped soothe fears of a rolling banking crisis.
Stocks have seen volatile trade amid signs of stress in the banking system, but all three major indexes are on track for weekly gains. The Nasdaq Composite, up 5.2% through Thursday, was on track for its best week of 2023.
What's driving markets
Worries about risk in the banking sector following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and two other U.S. lenders have weighed on markets over the past week, but negotiations toward a package to shore up First Republic (FRC), which was then announced late in the afternoon, helped to ameliorate worries, market analysts said.
Bank of America(BAC), Citigroup(C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo(WFC) said Thursday they are each making $5 billion uninsured deposits as part of a $30 billion package from 11 banks into First Republic Bank. U.S. regulators praised the move.
First Republic shares ended the day up 10%, erasing an earlier loss of 36%. Shares remain down more than 70% in March.
Mark Grant, chief global strategist at Colliers Securities, said a deal would shore up confidence in the most vulnerable regional U.S. lenders.
"It'll calm the depositors greatly and I think the big banks also see this as an opportunity to grow their franchise at an opportunistic price," Grant told MarketWatch, in a phone interview.
Earlier, Credit Suisse Group(CSGN.EB) said it would borrow 50 billion francs ($54 billion) from the Swiss National Bank, which helped shares of the troubled Swiss lender rebound. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank's decision to hike its policy rate by 50 basis points Thursday spurred expectations that central banks wouldn't let worries about the banking sector distract them from taming inflation.
See: Why the ECB looked past Credit Suisse drama to deliver another supersize rate hike
"I think the fact that [the ECB] went 50 is telling you, at a bare minimum, that inflation is at this point as important as financial stability," said Michael Lebowitz, a portfolio manager at RIA Advisors, during a call with MarketWatch.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday told senators that the U.S. banking system stands on solid footing, following the government's moves last weekend to backstop depositors at two failed banks.
"I can reassure the members of the committee that our banking system is sound, and that Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them," Yellen said as she testified before the Senate Finance Committee.
In U.S. economic news Thursday, joblessdata showed fewer than 200,000 Americans claimed benefits last week, fewer than economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected. The data were the latest sign that the U.S. labor market remains robust, despite rising layoffs in the technology space and other parts of the economy.
"Strong demand for workers is still being signaled by a low level of jobless claims, solid job growth and elevated job openings," said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
Companies in focus
--Jamie Chisholm contributed to this article.
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March 16, 2023 16:36 ET (20:36 GMT)
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