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BofA CEO says leveraged-loan stress could ripple through economy –



Bank of America Corp., which tops the league table for U.S. leveraged-loan issuance, is watching that market closely for signs of stress.

“The real concern is: Is there too much leverage in the system in certain companies, and if they have trouble, will that impact the economy?” Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “We get concerned about that because it usually reverberates back” to banks.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender manages that risk by focusing on debt-underwriting terms, client selection and diversifying its loan book, Moynihan said. In June, he warned that potential “carnage” could ensue in the market that his bank has dominated for a decade.

Bank of America’s market share in U.S. leveraged-loan issuance has remained broadly stable at nearly 11%, even as issuance fell 33% on year. That comes at a time when commentators such as Fitch Ratings have flagged more loans of concern and the potential for an uptick in defaults going forward.

Direct lenders such as hedge funds and buyout firms are snatching business away from syndicated-debt players. Alternative asset managers have made inroads into the US$1.2 trillion leveraged-loan market by often offering speedier financing and more comprehensive structures than the public markets.

As private credit shops have also amassed massive amounts of capital — with US$296 billion of dry powder globally, according to London-based research firm Preqin — they’ve been able to finance larger and larger deals.

“For a given deal that they might do a structure, that might be a competitor, but they’re major clients of ours too,” Moynihan said. “On a given deal they may do a tranche of financing that we’d have done, but typically they’re doing a different tranche, honestly, and so we’re more focused on the shorter-term revolvers.”

Here are other takeaways from the interview:

  • Moynihan is pleased with the bank’s trading performance, alongside its efforts to revamp the investment bank.
  • The company plans to boost its ranks of relationship managers by 2%-3%.
  • He’s still optimistic about the U.S. economy, driven by strong consumer spending and a robust labor market.

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Canadian retail sales slide in April, May as COVID-19 shutdown bites



december retail sales

Canadian retail sales plunged in April and May, as shops and other businesses were shuttered amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

Retail trade fell 5.7% in April, the sharpest decline in a year, missing analyst forecasts of a 5.0% drop. In a preliminary estimate, Statscan said May retail sales likely fell by 3.2% as store closures dragged on.

“April showers brought no May flowers for Canadian retailers this year,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Statscan said that 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April. The average length of the closure was one day, it said, citing respondent feedback.

Sales decreased in nine of the 11 subsectors, while core sales, which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicles, were down 7.6% in April.

Clothing and accessory store sales fell 28.6%, with sales at building material and garden equipment stores falling for the first time in nine months, by 10.4%.

“These results continue to suggest that the Bank of Canada is too optimistic on the growth outlook for the second quarter, even if there is a solid rebound occurring now in June,” Mendes said.

The central bank said in April that it expects Canada’s economy to grow 6.5% in 2021 and signaled interest rates could begin to rise in the second half of 2022.

The Canadian dollar held on to earlier gains after the data, trading up 0.3% at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, editing by Alexander Smith)

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Canadian dollar notches a 6-day high



Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, as oil prices rose and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reassured markets that the central bank is not rushing to hike rates.

Markets were rattled last week when the Fed shifted to more hawkish guidance. But Powell on Tuesday said the economic recovery required more time before any tapering of stimulus and higher borrowing costs are appropriate, helping Wall Street recoup last week’s decline.

Canada is a major producer of commodities, including oil, so its economy is highly geared to the economic cycle.

Brent crude rose above $75 a barrel, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents, after touching its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2265.

The currency also gained ground on Monday and Tuesday, clawing back some of its decline from last week.

Canadian retail sales fell by 5.7% in April from March as provincial governments put in place restrictions to tackle a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said. A flash estimate showed sales down 3.2% in May.

Still, the Bank of Canada expects consumer spending to lead a strong rebound in the domestic economy as vaccinations climb and containment measures ease.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper curve, with the 10-year up nearly 1 basis point at 1.416%. Last Friday, it touched a 3-1/2-month low at 1.364%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Toronto Stock Exchange higher at open as energy stocks gain



Toronto Stock Exchange edged higher at open on Wednesday as heavyweight energy stocks advanced, while data showing a plunge in domestic retail sales in April and May capped the gains.

* At 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.77 points, or 0.08%, at 20,217.42.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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