Critical information for the U.S. trading day
And so we draw to the end of another frantic week in markets.
The CBOE VIX index (VIX), the gauge of equity volatility, twice spiked up to 30 before tumbling back down.
The ICE BoAML MOVE index, a VIX for the Treasury market, jumped to its highest since the great financial crisis of 2008, at one point up more than 80% from just the start of February.
Those moves illustrate the whipsaw action in stocks and bond yields as traders tried to work out the seriousness of the unfolding banking crisis and how much it would compromise central banks’ ability to sustain their inflation fighting strategies.
Worries that financial sector tremors would badly impact the global economy — and some over-long positioning — also caused a slump in oil prices.
Still, the stock market rallied on Thursday, and Friday’s tone, on the surface at least, is calm as investors appear salved by the authorities arranging support for Credit Suisse (CS), and First Republic (FRC) in the U.S..
But hold on.
The Federal Reserve is having to expand its balance sheet again after it reported late Thursday that banks this week used its new Bank Term Funding Program to borrow $11.9 billion. Also, $153 billion was borrowed via the Fed’s discount window and $142.8 billion in bridge loans.
The market doesn’t know who, or how desperate, these borrowers may be.
And others are worried that recent actions to help the banking sector are not just papering over the cracks but possibly making things worse.
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is not happy that the systemically important banks (SIBs) have been chivvied into recycling the deposits they received from First Republic Bank (FRB) back into the struggling lender.
“The result is that FRB default risk is now being spread to our largest banks. Spreading the risk of financial contagion to achieve a false sense of confidence in FRB is bad policy. The SIBs would never have made this low return investment in deposits unless they were pressured to do so and without assurances that FRB deposits would be backstopped if it failed,” Ackman wrote in a tweet late Thursday.
“The press release announcing the $30B of deposits raised more questions than it answers. Lack of transparency causes market participants to assume the worst. I have said before that hours matter. We have allowed days to go by. Half measures don’t work when there is a crisis of confidence.,” he added.
Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital Management, and is not averse to an apocalyptical outburst, said the banking sector needed a temporary deposit guarantee immediately until an expanded government insurance scheme is widely available.
“We need to stop this now. We are beyond the point where the private sector can solve the problem and are in the hands of our government and regulators. Tick-tock.”
S&P 500 futures (ES00) rose 0.1% as 10-year Treasury yields (BX:TMUBMUSD10Y) fell 4.2 basis points to 3.542%. The dollar index (DXY) lost 0.3%, helping lift gold (GC00) by 0.7% to $1,936 an ounce.
Try your hand at the Barron’s crossword puzzle and sudoku games, now running daily along with a weekly digital jigsaw based on the week’s cover story. To see all puzzles, click here.
U.S. economic data due today include February industrial production and capacity utilization, published at 9:15 a.m., followed at 10 a.m. by the February leading economic indicators index and consumer sentiment report for March. All times Eastern.
It’s another quadruple witching Friday, with option contracts worth $2.8 trillion set to expire.
Anyone buying First Republic’s stock (FRC) at the open on Thursday and selling at the close could have made about 60% for the day. The rebound came after a consortium of big banks pledged $30 billion of deposits for the lender. However, the shares are off 5% running up to the opening bell on Friday after First Republic said it would have to suspend its dividend to conserve cash.
FedEx shares (FDX) are up 11 % in premarket action after the package deliverer delivered results that showed cost cutting and the ability to raise prices was helping its bottom line.
Shares in Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) are tumbling 20% after the FDA said it would hold an advisory committee on the company’s Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment.
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Eagle-eyed readers may note that this week it dropped into ‘Extreme Fear’ — below the 25 line — before popping back into just ‘Fear’. The last time the chart dipped that low, in October 2022, it marked a recent bottom for the S&P 500.
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