Big Four US banks drop in pre-market wiping out gains

Posted 11 days ago


Plunging bank stocks drove Wall Street lower on Wednesday, as turmoil at Credit Suisse renewed fears of a banking crisis after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

The S&P 500 Banks Industry Group Index dropped more than 4 percent in midday trading, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 450 points, or 1.42 percent

Shares of First Republic, one of the regional banks swept up in contagion fears after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank last week, dropped up to 23 percent after Standard & Poors downgraded the bank's bond rating to Junk status.

In Europe, shares of Credit Suisse plunged more than 25 percent, hitting a new record low for the second day in a row, after the Swiss bank reportedly requested a show of support from that country's central bank.

The Big Four trillion-dollar US banks gave back their gains from yesterday's rally, with shares of JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo down between 3 percent and 6.1 percent in midday trading.

Driving the turmoil on Wall Street were concerns about Credit Suisse, after the Swiss bank's largest investor said it would not offer further financial assistance to the lender.

As its share price plunged in European and US markets, Credit Suisse asked the Swiss National Bank and regulatory agency Finma to issue public statements expressing confidence in the bank's financial health, according to a Financial Times report citing sources familiar with the matter.

A spokesperson for Credit Suisse declined to comment when reached by on Wednesday afternoon. The Swiss central bank and Finma could not be immediately reached for comment.

Meanwhile, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink in his annual letter to investors and CEOs warned the US regional banking sector remains at risk after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, predicting inflation will persist and rates would continue to rise.

Fink called the Fed's rapid rate hikes over the past year the 'first domino to drop' after years of easy money, noting that 'prior tightening cycles have often led to spectacular financial flameouts' and citing the 'slow rolling crisis' of the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s.

'We don’t know yet whether the consequences of easy money and regulatory changes will cascade throughout the US regional banking sector (akin to the S&L Crisis) with more seizures and shutdowns coming,' he wrote.

Billionaire financier Carl Ichan also voiced concerns in a CNBC interview on Tuesday, saying 'our system is breaking down, and we absolutely have a major problem in our economy today.'

'One of the major reasons is that you don’t have good corporate leadership,' said Ichan.

He continued: 'When the tide is high, and things are great, it doesn’t matter, and all these guys that are running these companies are partying and having a good time and giving themselves bonuses. But, you know, their incentive is different than the people who invest with them.'

After the collapse of SVB Financial and Signature Bank, emergency measures by US authorities had soothed some worries about the health of the other banks, helping regional lenders stage a rebound in Tuesday's session.

However, some regional banks were giving back their gains in mixed trading midday Wednesday, with shares of First Republic and PacWest down more than 17 percent, but Western Alliance shares rising more than 5 percent.

San Francisco-based First Republic, which has a similar customer base to failed SVB, saw a sharp sell-off after ratings agency S&P downgraded its credit to junk status.

'Junk' bonds, also known as high-yield bonds, trade at a steep discount to face value due to the perceived increased risk of the issuer defaulting.... (Read more)