S&P global US banks

S&P Global Slashes Credit Ratings for US Regional Banks

In a significant blow to US regional banks, S&P Global took decisive action on Monday by slashing credit ratings and revising outlooks. This development comes as a consequence of mounting funding costs and concerns within the commercial real estate (CRE) sector, which are poised to test the credit resilience of these financial institutions. The relentless rate-hike initiative pursued by the US Federal Reserve has culminated in elevated interest rates, compelling banks to disburse higher sums to retain depositors and prevent them from diverting funds to more lucrative alternatives.


S&P’s decisions reverberated across the sector, with Associated Banc-Corp and Valley National Bancorp facing downgrades due to perceived funding vulnerabilities and heightened reliance on brokered deposits. Meanwhile, UMB Financial Corp, Comerica Bank, and KeyCorp faced downgrades driven by substantial deposit outflows and the persistent surge in interest rates. In a prelude to trading, both KeyCorp and Comerica shares sustained nearly 1% dips, underscoring the tangible market response to S&P’s moves.


Further exacerbating the sector’s woes, S&T Bank and River City Bank were slapped with negative outlooks by S&P, a reflection of their expanding CRE exposure. This latest development compounds the predicament facing the banking industry, particularly in light of the earlier confidence shakeup when Huntington Bancshares Inc., Signature Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, and First Commonwealth Financial Corp. encountered setbacks.


The repercussions are not confined to a single dimension, extending beyond S&P’s assessment. Last week, a Fitch analyst speculated that JPMorgan Chase and similar financial institutions might confront rating downgrades should the sector’s “operating environment” spiral into negativity. This dual onslaught of credit rating cuts from S&P and the specter of further downgrades heightens the strain on a beleaguered banking sector, grappling with the persistent rise in borrowing expenses.


In the face of the Federal Reserve’s unwavering commitment to rate hikes, US Treasury yields maintain their highest levels in the past 16 years, perpetuating a bond market upheaval that has persisted for six consecutive weeks. Amid this tumult, the S&P’s actions serve as an additional catalyst, sowing uncertainty within the market’s outlook. The trajectory of this financial turmoil and the banking sector’s potential to navigate its course remain enigmatic.


However, amidst the prevailing pessimism, glimmers of hope persist. US stock index futures experienced a modest upswing, attributed to the buoyancy of megacap growth stocks. This trend implies an undercurrent of optimism, suggesting a plausible avenue for fortification amid the prevailing economic pressures.


In conclusion, the financial landscape for US regional banks has encountered a substantial tremor as S&P Global enacts far-reaching credit rating reductions. The confluence of mounting funding expenses and CRE sector uncertainties has cast a shadow over the creditworthiness of these institutions. As the banking sector contends with this multi-faceted challenge, the market remains on tenterhooks, poised for further developments that could either exacerbate the current turmoil or signal a resurgence amid adversity.

Source: Reuters

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