World Shares up After 1st Republic Aid Spurs Wall Street Rally

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
March 17, 2023Updated: March 17, 2023

BANGKOK—Markets advanced Friday in Europe and Asia, tracking a rally on Wall Street after a group of big banks offered a lifeline to First Republic Bank, the latest U.S. lender in the spotlight for troubles in the banking industry.

Shares rose in Paris, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong but edged lower in Mumbai. U.S. futures edged higher, while oil prices gained.

The S&P 500 jumped 1.8 percent Thursday, erasing earlier losses following reports that First Republic Bank could get help or sell itself to another bank. Markets have gyrated this week on concerns over the toll on banks from the fastest set of interest rate hikes in decades. The turmoil flared with last week’s collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the second largest bank failure in U.S. history.

“The market remains cautious; traders do not want to get overexcited, especially with investors still focusing on what can go wrong instead of what could go right,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.

Germany’s DAX gained 0.9 percent in early trading, to 15,102.37 and the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.7 percent at 7,075.74. In London, the FTSE 100 rose 0.8 percent to 7,471.98.

Credit Suisse’s shares dropped as much as 5 percent on the Swiss stock exchange Friday, a day after the Swiss central bank agreed to loan the bank up to 50 billion francs ($54 billion) to shore up its finances. Shares of Switzerland’s second-largest lender have been whipsawing: They soared as much as 33 percent on Thursday after plunging by nearly as much the day before when the bank’s biggest shareholder said it would not invest more money.

The future for the S&P 500 inched 0.1 percent higher while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was unchanged.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.8 percent to 19,548.26 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.7 percent to 3,450.55.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index gained 1.2 percent to 27,333.79 and the Kospi in Seoul was up 0.8 percent at 2,395.69. Shares in major Japanese banks rebounded after falling sharply at times this week.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 6,994.80. India’s Sensex was 0.1 percent higher while Taiwan’s Taiex surged 1.5 percent.

Stocks rallied Thursday on Wall Street after 11 of the biggest banks offered help for the First Republic with a combined deposit of $30 billion.

Since SVB’s failure, investors have been on the lookout for banks with similar traits, such as many depositors with more than the $250,000 limit that’s insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., tech startups, and other highly connected people who can spread worries about a bank’s strength quickly.

First Republic Bank rose 10 percent Thursday after slumping as much as 36 percent early in the day.

The Federal Reserve’s fastest barrage of hikes to interest rates in decades, to drive down inflation, has shocked the banking system following years of historically easy conditions. Higher rates raise the risk of recession and hurt prices for stocks, bonds, and other investments. That latter factor hurt Silicon Valley Bank, since high rates forced down the value of its bond investments.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told a Senate committee on Thursday that the nation’s banking system “remains sound” and Americans “can feel confident” about their deposits.

Wall Street increasingly expects this week’s turmoil to push the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates next week by only a quarter of a percentage point. That would be the same sized increase as last month’s, half the hike of 0.50 points that was earlier expected.

The European Central Bank on Thursday raised its key rate by half a percentage point, brushing aside speculation that it may reduce the size because of all the turmoil around banks.

All the stress in the banking system has raised worries about a potential recession because of how important smaller and mid-sized banks are to making loans to businesses across the country. Oil prices have slid this week on such fears.

Reports on the U.S. economy are showing mixed signals. A report said fewer workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 73 cents to $69.08 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It picked up 74 cents on Thursday to $68.35 a barrel.

Brent crude, the pricing basis for international trading, climbed 78 cents to $75.48 a barrel.

The dollar fell to 133.26 Japanese yen from 133.76 yen. The euro rose to $1.0664 from $1.0611.

By Elaine Kurtenbach

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