Dollar gains in safe-haven buying as Credit Suisse sparks wider banking fears

NEW YORK/LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - The dollar rose on Wednesday on safe-haven buying after Credit Suisse's stock tumbled following the disclosure of "weaknesses" in its financial reporting that renewed investor concerns that a full-blown global banking crisis may be brewing.

European currencies fell sharply against the dollar, with Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) shares plummeting 24.2% after its biggest investor, citing regulatory issues about the size of its holding, said it was unable to increase its stake.

Credit Suisse's 2022 annual report published on Tuesday cited "material weaknesses" in internal controls over financial reporting, noting that it had not yet stemmed customer outflows.

Concerns about the Swiss bank led the European banking index (.SX7P) to fall 6.9%, its biggest one-day drop in nearly 13 months, and triggered a plunge in European and U.S. bond yields. Investors question whether the Federal Reserve and other central banks can keep hiking interest rates to curb inflation.

"The concern with Credit Suisse is whether or not this is going to turn into a full-blown global banking problem," said Bipan Rai, North America head of FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

"It really looks like central banks are caught between a rock and a hard place between tightening policy to address issues in the real economy and then, of course, the spillover effect is the fact that there's a financial side to that."

Credit Suisse's difficulties are different than the failure of Silicon Valley and Signature banks, said Mark Stoeckle, chief executive and senior portfolio manager at Adams Funds in Baltimore.

"Everybody has been watching with a front row seat the mismanagement of Credit Suisse for years. So it is different," he said. "But it is still bringing in the unknown which the market always hates."

The dollar index , which measures the U.S. currency against six others, rose 0.925% and the euro fell 1.42% to $1.058. Higher Treasury yields than other government debt have driven dollar strength this year.

The dollar also rose 1.94% against the Swiss franc , while sterling traded down 0.83% at $1.2057.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.72% to 133.24 per dollar.

"This is two-fold: there's just a massive flight to quality, safe-haven buying, and the other is a repricing of rate hike expectations," said Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy at WisdomTree.

"We've had this dramatic change in pricing for what the Fed is going to do and that's in conjunction with the actual buying, and the reason why the focus is on the two-year" note, he said.

Fed funds futures, which reflect the overnight rate that banks use to lend to each other, plummeted. The December contract tumbled to 3.767% from about 5% a week ago, with a potential rate cut now seen in June.

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Two-year Treasury notes , which move in step with interest rate expectations, slid 30.4 basis points to 3.921%. Futures priced in a 60.1% chance the Fed does not raise rates at its policy meeting on March 21-22, CME's FedWatch Tool showed.

In Europe, money markets also changed their bets on rate hikes by the European Central Bank amid the banking turmoil.

"This morning's Credit Suisse news is doing all of the damage in FX markets as European bank stocks take another beating today," said Simon Harvey, head of FX Analysis at Monex.

"The sell-off in these stocks only raises concerns over financial stability again, which is having a knock-on effect in European government bond and swap markets as the prospect of an more restricted ECB (European Central Bank) comes back into view," he said.

Markets are now pricing in a 60% chance of a 25 basis point hike in euro zone rates on Thursday. Earlier in the day, they were pricing in a 90% chance of a 50 bps hike.

Currency bid prices at 4:12 p.m. (2012 GMT)

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Davide Barbuscia and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York, Joice Alves in London; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Kirsten Donovan, Andrea Ricci and Richard Chang

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