Saturday, 19 December 2015

Stocks tumble, risk of debt defaults remains low near-term

Stocks ended the week with sharp falls.

The S&P 500 plunged 1.8 percent, the STOXX Europe 600 fell 1 percent and the Nikkei 225 sank 1.9 percent.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.197 percent from 2.236 percent.

Oil fell, US crude falling 0.6 percent and Brent falling 0.5 percent.

“I think it’s a relative safety trade going into the weekend,” said Weston Boone, managing director of institutional trading at Stifel Nicolaus.

However, there may not be a need to rush to safety just yet.

While falling commodity prices have triggered a widening of junk bond spreads on concern over the ability of companies to service their debt, credit strategists at Société Générale think that default rates in the US high yield market will remain less than 4 percent next year.

"The U.S. energy and mining companies have extended the life of their debt, and face only $5 billion worth of bond redemptions this year (concentrated in the second-half)," the strategists wrote. "However, redemptions rise quite sharply in 2017, 2018 and 2019, so the sector will need refinancing over this period."

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