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That Means Stress

17 November 2017 by lberuti

This week marked the return of volatility in the credit market, at least on a micro point of view. Indices had their up and downs but the moves were always contained. Peak to trough variations of 15bps – and we have to look at intraday prints to get a double-digit number as daily closes always seem to attract contravariant investors who bring daily moves in check – at best qualify for tempest in a teacup. The real action took place at the single names level, especially in the European high- yield universe. A few corporates have consistently been the focal point of the credit market. ASTIM (Astaldi), ALTICE, SFR, BOPRLN (Boporan) experienced roller coaster rides and they are all closing the week at their recent widest levels. Investors have real concerns about them, and there was a genuine appetite for protection on these names during both the up and downs of the market as a whole. So much so that for the first time in while, the basis of iTraxx Crossover (ITXEX), the index to which they all belong, stayed negative – ie the quoted risk premium of ITXEX was tighter than the sum of the risk premia of its constituents – throughout the whole period. It is what you would expect when ITXEX tightens - indices tend to react faster than single names -, but it is quite unusual when it widens. It is a sign of genuine stress.