Asian Markets

LIVE MARKETS Junk-rated corporate debt growth outpaces investment grade

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  • S&P 500 dips, Nasdaq slides ~1.1%, DJI ~flat
  • Tech weakest major S&P 500 sector; energy leads gainers
  • Euro STOXX 600 index ends down ~1.3%
  • Bitcoin, crude gain; dollar ~flat; gold falls
  • U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield rises to ~1.65%

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Corporate debt rated BB-plus or lower by S&P Global Ratings grew by 7.9% to $5.58 trillion in the first half of 2021, outpacing growth of 1.6% for investment-grade debt, the credit rating agency reported this week.

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Overall growth of S&P-rated global financial and nonfinancial corporate debt, including bonds, notes, loans, revolving credit facilities, and preferred securities, slowed to 3.1% from 3.8% in 2020's first half "when issuers raised unprecedented funding to bolster liquidity and bridge operations in response to COVID-19," the report said.

The amount of corporate debt S&P rates grew by more than $684 billion at $22.8 trillion by July 1 with 76% rated in the investment-grade category at BBB-minus or higher.

The largest increases were for debt rated in the BBB and B categories, which jumped by $384.5 billion and $265 billion respectively, due in part to rating upgrades.

Growth in B-rated debt was fueled by a surge in leveraged finance issuance, as well as rating upgrades of more than 80 issuers to the B level from the CCC level in the first half of 2021, S&P reported.

(Karen Pierog)



As the dust settles on COP26, there is a lot that has been said on what it means for governments, companies and investors, but the consensus view was that trillions of dollars worth of funding need to be mobilized to have meaningful hope of averting the worst of climate change, and that the private sector is key.

It stands to reason that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is looking to beef up the amount of private capital it can help put to work on its projects.

Ludger Schuknecht, vice president and corporate secretary of the AIIB, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum (GMF) the AIIB's securitization program was "well subscribed", adding that about a third of participation was from outside Asia itself.

"If you look at the spreads, over six months liable for the Class A, the AAA-rated one, in the 120-125 basis point range...So, a good return for those investors who wanted high rated bonds and a good amount."

Schuknecht said the bank was even "trying to create an environment for retail investors to also invest in the climate space," which he added would be a first in Asia.

While climate finance was earlier closely linked with debt markets and more specifically green bonds earlier, COP26 seems to have cemented the belief among many investors across the capital structure that money needs to be allocated in a more environmentally aware manner.

"Interest is across the range of solutions – discretionary portfolios, liquid and illiquid funds, structured products, direct deals," Damian Payiatakis, Head of Sustainable & Impact Investing at Barclays Private Bank, told the GMF.

"For many investors, the entry points tend to be into investments where they are already active and familiar. If I take a step back, sustainability is the next stage of investing, not simply the latest product or trend," Payiatakis added.

(Aaron Saldanha)



A lone economic indicator released on Tuesday suggests the growth of business activity in the United States has lost some momentum.

While the manufacturing sector's (USMPMP=ECI) expansion accelerated slightly, growth in services (USMPSP=ECI) - which accounts for a larger slice of the total pie - unexpectedly applied the brakes, according to global information firm HIS Markit.

Markit's preliminary "flash" purchasing managers' index (PMI) for November delivered 59.1 reading for goods makers, a 0.7 point increase over October. But the services print defied consensus by dropping 1.7 points to an even 57, two points lower than expected.

Taken together, the composite number shed 0.9 points to 56.9.

A PMI reading above 50 indicates monthly expansion.

While the U.S. economy has essentially re-opened for business, with see-sawing demand for goods versus customer facing services approaching some semblance of equanimity, the supply side of the equation remains in intensive care as shortages of materials and workers continue to constrain activity.

"The slowdown underscores how the economy is struggling to cope with ongoing supply constraints" writes Chris Williamson, Markit's chief business economist. "Input cost inflation spiked sharply higher in November to reach a new survey high, adding to pressure for firms to pass the recent surge in costs on to customers in order to protect margins."

"Average prices charged for goods and services continued to rise at an unprecedented rate,” Williamson adds.

Markit flash PMI

Compared with global rivals, U.S. and European factory activity expansion is essentially neck-and-neck, with merchandise producers across the pond outpacing the U.S. in output and headcount, but stateside producers enjoying faster growth in new orders.

And since the end of the pandemic recession - the deepest and shortest economic contraction on record - China has been a clear laggard.

World Markit manufacturing PMI

On Wednesday, investors will be treated to a veritable traffic jam of indicators as the markets hightail it out of town to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday.

On tap for tomorrow are (deep breath), mortgage demand, corporate profits, durable goods, GDP, consumer spending, PCE inflation, jobless claims, inventories, new home sales and consumer sentiment.

As for Wall Street, a lack of meaningful market-moving catalysts exerted its gravitational pull on the major stock indexes, with the benchmark S&P 500 on the road to its third straight day in the red.

Energy (.SPNY) is the outlier on the upside, with spiking crude prices boosting the sector sharply higher.

(Stephen Culp)



After opening as a mixed bag Wall Street's three major averages managed to turn positive in Tuesday's early trading after U.S. HIS Markit data showed U.S. business activity slowed moderately in November amid labor shortages and raw material delays, contributing to soaring prices halfway through the fourth quarter. read more

However, the S&P 500 (.SPX) and Nasdaq (.IXIC) were less sure of themselves, and have quickly dipped back into the red.

At last glance there were four modestly declining sectors with tech (.SPLRCT) off most. Communications services (.SPLRCL), consumer discretionary (.SPLRCD) and healthcare (.SPXHC) are down.

The energy sector (.SPNY) is the benchmark's biggest percentage gainer as oil gained ground to steady near $80 a barrel after the United States announced plans to release up to 50 million barrels of oil from its reserves to cool the market.

Markets are also still digesting Monday's news that Jerome Powell was nominated for a second term as Fed Chair and the fact that expectations were pushed forward on Monday for an interest rate hike by as soon as June 2022 compared with the previous expectation for July. read more

(Sinéad Carew)



After an 11-day losing streak for the lira, the Turkish currency is now firmly in crisis territory again. The biggest concerns on investors' minds now are where is the selloff going to end and what are the chances of the contagion spreading?

Turkey's lira plummeted nearly 15% on Tuesday, while its benchmark index (.XU100) rose 1.5% due to suddenly cheap valuations. Turkey's banks (.XBANK) have held up well so far, up 19% this month. The broader stocks index is up 17% in November having scaled record highs.

Given its limited trade and financial links with the rest of the world, alongside most emerging markets' improved external positions, economist Simon MacAdam at Capital Economics, writes that any global spillovers are unlikely. Turkish banks have $10 billion of foreign loans on their books, so domestic banking strains would not have a big impact on overseas lending.

"The way this would get uglier for the rest of the world is if President Erdogan were to hold his nerve for long enough and for the lira to fall far enough to endanger Turkey’s banks," writes MacAdam.

Nonetheless, some Spanish and other European banks like BBVA with Turkish exposure through its Garanti subsidiary may continue to underperform for the duration of the crisis as they did in 2018, adds the economist.

(Bansari Mayur Kamdar)



Over the past six months or so the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) has been trapped between two log-scale trend lines:


On a weekly basis, the Dow closed above a more than 90-year resistance line in late March. With this action, the polarity of the line flipped from resistance to support.

Since then, the Dow has bounced off of it a number of times, refusing to end a week back below it. It now resides as support around 34,000.

On the upside, the blue-chip average faces a resistance line from early 2018. This line capped strength in mid-August and again earlier this month. It now resides around 36,700.

Meanwhile, over the past six months or so, weekly momentum has been waning. The MACD hit a more than one-year low in mid-October, and despite the Dow's early-November thrust to new highs, the momentum study managed just a tepid rise.

The Dow is now down 2.6% from its 36,565.73 November 8 intraday high. But with the MACD remaining weak, risk remains for DJI to continue to oscillate down to once again test the support line. read more

Ultimately, a weekly close outside the range defined by these two lines may signal potential for acceleration. Ending back below the support line can suggest a failed breakout above a very long-term trend line, with risk then for a major reversal.

(Terence Gabriel)



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Terence Gabriel is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own

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