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Global shares gain as banking sector lifelines bolster confidence

Published 03/15/2023, 08:30 PM
Updated 03/16/2023, 05:16 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Monitors displaying the stock index prices and Japanese yen exchange rate against the U.S. dollar are seen at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo, Japan January 4, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

By Chris Prentice and Marc Jones

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Global equities rose on Thursday on news that a large group of banks were infusing cash into U.S. lender First Republic Bank (NYSE:FRC) and as a lifeline from the Swiss National Bank to Credit Suisse eased fears of a global banking crisis.

European and U.S. bond yields were also higher, as oil snapped a three-day rout.

Spot gold prices edged up.

The European Central Bank pressed forward with a 50-basis-point rate hike despite recent turmoil in financial markets.

First Republic Bank's shares jumped nearly 22% before trading was halted on Thursday after several large banks were said to be in talks to deposit billions of dollars to salvage the embattled lender, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

"The best lifelines for the banks, or any company, is when other companies are interested. The banks coming in here suggests the bleeding is stopping," said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist for LPL Financial (NASDAQ:LPLA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Credit Suisse's shares spent most of the day up around 20% after the Swiss National Bank (SNB) swooped in with support.

Money markets are still largely pricing in a 25-basis-point rate hike by the Federal Reserve next week, while ECB President Christine Lagarde described her central bank's rate rise on Thursday, which took its key rate to 3%, as a "robust decision" to bring inflation back under control.

"The implications for the Fed's meeting next week suggests that the Fed will raise rates 25 basis points," Krosby said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 371.98 points, or 1.17%, to 32,246.55, the S&P 500 gained 68.35 points, or 1.76%, to 3,960.28 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 283.23 points, or 2.48%, to 11,717.28.

"If you take a look at global central bank rate expectations, it seems we're nearing the end. The effects of these rate hikes are becoming destructive for the economy," said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA.

"Markets are up today, but this is like watching a slow-motion train wreck for the economy."

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 nations, gained 1.27%.

Europe's STOXX 600 closed the day 1.3% higher, rebounding after dropping 0.6% immediately after the ECB rate-hike news to touch a fresh 10-week low.

The banking sector index gained more than 1%, bouncing back from an intraday drop following the rate hike.

The SNB confirmed early on Thursday that it would provide "liquidity" to Credit Suisse, which said it was taking "decisive action" and would borrow up to 50 billion Swiss francs ($53.76 billion).

Europe's banking stocks suffered their steepest one-day drop in more than a year on Wednesday in the wake of Credit Suisse's woes, which also followed the collapse of two U.S. banks last week.

It has demonstrated what happens when major central banks like the Fed and ECB raise interest rates by hundreds of basis points in a short period of time, said Stefan Gerlach, chief economist at EFG Bank in Zurich and a former deputy governor of Ireland's central bank.

"Whenever you do something that large, you know there is a risk waiting somewhere in the financial system," he said, speaking before the ECB decision was announced.

Germany's 2-year bond yield rose to 2.616%, after earlier in the session hitting its lowest level since the middle of December at 2.373%.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 3.5789%, compared to 3.494% on Wednesday. The two-year yield, which rises with traders' expectations of higher Fed policy rates, touched 4.1635% after closing the previous session at 3.975%.

Overnight, Asian shares had fallen around 1%, but it was largely a catch-up move and had none of the frenzy witnessed in Europe on the previous day.

GRAPHIC - Credit Suisse goes off piste Credit Suisse goes off piste


Overnight, MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.84% after earlier hitting its lowest level this year.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was down at 104.44.

The euro was up 0.3% on the day at $1.061, having gained 0.32% in a month, as the yen gained 0.25% to 133.74 per dollar.

Mexico's peso strengthened more than 1% against the U.S. dollar in afternoon trading.

Oil prices jumped after dropping to near 15-month lows earlier in the session, supported by reports that top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia had met to discuss ways to enhance market stability.

Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, rose $1.37, or 1%, to settle at $74.70 a barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 74 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $68.35 a barrel.

© Reuters. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 16, 2023.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Spot gold prices rose 0.03% to $1,918.63 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled 0.4% lower at $1,923 per ounce.

($1 = 0.9270 Swiss francs)

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