Defensive bias stepped higher, amid increasing attention by investors to statements by the U.K.'s Theresa May, and the U.S.' Donald Trump. Accordingly, investment-grade bonds easily outpaced junk debt on the European front, reflected in price gains linked to actual trades. High-yield bonds in the banking and retail sectors gave up some of last week's gains, while airline securities followed Lufthansa shares higher.
Abbot Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) saw a series of bond issues downgraded this past week from A2 to Baa3. This rating downgrade follows the aquisition of St Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ) on January 4th and the concerns that Abbott will struggle with deleveraging in the future. Since the acquisition and downgrade, ADI's CDS screener has shown Abbott Laboratories 5Y Sen USD XR14 CDS (green) drop and then widen to 62 Basis Points. Over the same period, ABT's equity (grey) had been on the rise until a drop yesterday.
European high yield debt held a slight edge over investment grade names, even as the pan-European Stoxx 600 equities index stayed mired in the shallow red.
Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) saw a jump in its bonds following the successful split of its business services arm, Conduent Inc. (NYSE: CNDT). The announcement came yesterday as the new Xerox CEO, Jeff Jacobson, announced that, "The successful completion of the separation sharpens our market focus and commitment to our customers". In addition to the ability to resharpen the focus of Xerox to its bread and butter of the technology and hardware business, it also received a $1.8 billion cash transfer from Conduent to help pay off around $2 billion of outstanding debt.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (IT: BMPS) has been in the headlines the past few months over concerns that it wouldn't be able to cover its bad outstanding debts. In November, the bank announced that it was seeking a 5 billion euro capital injection in order to cover these debts in December, but the plan is currently at risk following the recent government referendum decision. Investors have been skeptical about the banks recapitalization, but reports on Tuesday have suggested that the Italian government will participate in the capital relief. It is crucial that BMPS receive aid quickly to avoid a collapse of the bank and possible contagion to others.
The world's oldest lender experienced a scare with bad loans earlier this January, but was able to avoid disaster through an accounting restatement and help from the government to repackage non-performing loans into bonds.
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