Commentary

Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Dec 4 – Dec 8, 2017

Global markets remained relatively flat throughout the week until a slew of positive headlines around the world contributed to a strong finish on Friday. The Canadian corporate market continues to be receptive in secondary trading as well as the new issue front. Canadian mortgage financer MCAP and transport company Penske were able to launch successful issues with small sizes, crowding in buyers with strong follow-on secondary trading.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 27 – Dec 1, 2017

The post-Thanksgiving Day week has traditionally been active for Canadian credit markets and this week was no exception, with bank earnings, a strong employment report, and over 7 billion in new corporate bond issuance. Consumer/Retail was one of the stronger performing sectors on the week after Metro Inc. ($MRUCN) successfully launched a three-tranche deal.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 20 – Nov 24, 2017

Canadian credit markets roared to life early in the week before liquidity dried up due to American Thanksgiving. Secondary spreads were unchanged to a touch wider (in longs) as the market works to digest the recent slate of long bond issues.

US credit spreads continued to show an improved tone to regain some of the losses from earlier in the month. Most business was done during the first couple days, allowing some new issues to price.


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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 13 – Nov 17, 2017

The selloff in US credit spreads has lingered in November on the back of outflows from High Yield funds. Weak industrial output and government crackdowns out of China set the tone on Monday, enabling the Bloomberg commodity index to decline the most in six months. However on Thursday Republicans passed their tax-overhaul bill in Congress and TMT spreads tightened over further M&A talk, enabling corporate bonds to finish the week significantly off the Wednesday lows.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 6 – Nov 10, 2017

Global credit spreads took a step back from all time tights as investors struggled to digest headlines regarding the US tax plan amid large amounts of corporate supply. A 7 billion issue from Apple Inc. (AA+) on Monday got the week off on a sour note as a lack of concession saw the deal trade as much as 7bp wider in early trading. Investors were quick to demand greater pricing concessions on subsequent issues.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 30 – Nov 3, 2017

Canadian credit continues to defy gravity as bond spreads set new tights for the year. Energy paper led the way as oil prices closed at a two year high above $55. Across the pond, spreads of Italy’s largest banks including Intesa and Unicredit were up to 20bp tighter on the week after S&P upgraded the country by one notch to BBB-mid.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 23 – Oct 27, 2017

The strong sentiment in global credit shifted over to Canadian markets this week, mixing with a dovish rate decision from the Bank of Canada on Wednesday. In the primary market, Toromont issued its long-awaited deal, printing 500mm 10-year paper priced at CRV+175 bps.  The deal was very well received, closing 10 bps tighter for the week.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 16 – Oct 20, 2017

Credit investors managed to brush off macro issues including the NAFTA negotiations and the Catalan independence vote, focusing
instead on the advancement of Trump’s legislative agenda to maintain spreads at or near the tights of the year.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 10 – Oct 13, 2017

A holiday shortened week in North America saw spreads broadly unchanged with Europe rallying while the US market traded mildly softer. Despite US earnings season putting many large corporates in blackout, a number of notable new bond issues launched.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 2 – Oct 6, 2017

Amid sombre news of the tragedy in Las Vegas to start the week, trade volumes were muted but spreads kept grinding tighter. A notable new issue in the US this week came from BNS, launching its first AT1 deal: 1.25Bn with a 4.65% coupon. Anticipation of this deal caused domestic prefs and NVCC bonds to rally on expectations of reduced NVCC issuance in Canadian Dollars.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sep 25 – Sep 29, 2017

Total Canadian corporate issuance for the third quarter finished above $30 billion for the first time ever! Meanwhile, Stephen Poloz caught currency traders off guard with a speech on Wednesday in which he suggested the Bank of Canada would proceed “cautiously” on any future rate hikes.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sep 18 – Sep 22, 2017

A subdued week in credit markets kept investors at bay as the US Fed rate decision on Wednesday dominated market attention. The Federal Reserve confirmed that after 9 years of open market bond purchases which saw its balance sheet inflate from under 1 Trillion to 4.5 Trillion dollars, it will begin reducing its balance sheet starting October 1, effectively withdrawing stimulus from the market.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sep 11 – Sep 15, 2017

American markets led the way this week with a risk-on tone as the potential impacts of Hurricane Irma appeared overstated and a deal between Trump and the Democrats to temporarily raise the debt ceiling put tax reforms back on the table. New issue activity remained brisk, with most deals finding strong investor demand. Over $38bn of US investment grade paper priced this week, surpassing the 25-30bn expected.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sep 4 – Sep 8, 2017

The first week after Labour Day is typically one of the busiest of the year for credit markets and last week was no exception. The softer tone did not stop the flurry of new bond deals on both sides of the border, with $45 billion of supply in the US and over $3 billion in Canada. The rush of supply, tensions in North Korea and the potential damages from Hurricane Irma contributed to a broad widening of spreads in most sectors. New issue concessions remain tight and after-market spread performance for most deals was flat or wider.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 28 – Sep 1, 2017

Trading volumes in credit were typically low for the last weekend of August. Primary issuance (finally) fell quiet, allowing credit markets to consolidate after a surprisingly busy summer. Hurricane Harvey and North Korea provided a macro-backdrop, with the forced evacuation in Houston affecting energy and insurance spreads. Primary supply is expected to return with a vengeance after Labour Day with plenty of deals reportedly in the pipeline.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 21 – Aug 25, 2017

Global credit spreads were mixed throughout the week as investors focused on corporate earnings and secondary trading while they waited for commentary out of Jackson Hole. Canadian corporate spreads were also mixed, driven by solid performance in Airports, Media and Utilities, while Retailers lagged. The primary market remains surprisingly active for August, with $1.6 Billion of Canadian corporate new issuance priced last week.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 14 – Aug 18, 2017

Canadian credit was in focus this week with a C$2.5 billion inaugural maple deal for Apple grabbing investor attention. The launch on Tuesday ensured plenty of two-way trading throughout the week as investors made room for such a large new issue. Credit spreads in the US rebounded after the North Korean selloff of the prior week. Market tone remains lukewarm as investors weigh the Trump administration’s ability to follow through on its reform agenda. Benign inflation data and the release of Fed minutes pushed US rates down to a 2-month low.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 7 – Aug 11, 2017

A surprisingly heavy week of new issue supply against a backdrop of rising geopolitical tensions proved too much for global credit markets last week. US markets fared the worst, with the benchmark corporate spread index widening by 7bps – its worst 1-week performance in 18 months. Even as Canadians were enjoying an extended weekend on Monday, US bond markets kicked off the week with 13 new corporate issues, a surprising number for mid-August which set the tone for softer spreads.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 31 – Aug 4, 2017

Strong Canadian earnings and a shortage of new issuance resulted in heavy secondary trading throughout the week, specifically in the telecom and financial sectors. Government yields were lower as Canada pulled back from the momentum of the last couple of weeks. American credit took a breather as a combination of specific earnings misses, disappointing auto sales data and political turmoil in the Trump camp caused spreads to widen.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 24 – Jul 28, 2017

Global investors took advantage of strong credit tone and higher yielding instruments. Canadian credit performed well as solid earnings, an uptick in energy, and a string of good economic data gave investors confidence. Canadian government 10y yields rose above 2 percent for the first time since 2014 as investors continue to price in a second rate hike this year, capped off by the best year-over-year GDP metrics since 2000.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 17 – Jul 21, 2017

Following last week’s Bank of Canada rate announcement, Canadian corporate spreads tightened modestly across most sectors as investors took advantage of lower volatility, strong corporate earnings and quality new issuance. Government yields steadied throughout the week, falling slightly lower on Friday on the back of a mixed CPI report, reinforcing the Bank of Canada’s gradual path towards higher rates.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 10 – Jul 14, 2017

Central bank policies continued to dominate headlines on both sides of the border as Canada raised its key interest rate for the first time since 2010 and as Fed Chair Yellen provided dovish guidance during a testimony to Congress. Canadian government yields continued to rise as Governor Poloz provided hawkish comments following a rate increase of 25 bps. Global corporate credit tone continues to be receptive and modestly risk-on, further supported by a light amount of issuance in the primary market.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 3 – Jul 7, 2017

The holiday-shortened week in Canada and the US made for very quiet credit markets to start the month of July. Interest rates dominated the conversation as the German 10-year bund reached its highest yield in 18 months and developed-market government bonds around the world sold off in sympathy. Here in Canada, a strong employment report on Friday has market participants convinced that the Bank of Canada looks set to raise rates this week for the first time in about seven years.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 26 – Jun 30, 2017

Central Bankers in Europe, UK and Canada all expressed optimism about their respective economies, pushing government yields higher last week. Oil was higher, snapping a 5-week losing streak, but equity markets generally struggled dragged down by a selloff in technology stocks. Despite lower stock and bond markets, credit finished the month on a positive note with the Barclays Global Credit Index inching ahead to posit its best month of 2017.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 19 – Jun 23, 2017

Spreads of Canadian credit continued to tighten this week, driven by strong secondary trading in financials and banks on the back of preliminary bail-in rules released last Friday. American credit was subdued as a light week for economic data and downward revisions for inflation expectations placed a cooler on credit. The Dodd-Frank Act Stress Test (DFAST) results were largely in line, giving banks the likelihood to raise shareholder payouts.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 12 – Jun 16, 2017

Central Bank policy and inflation were in focus last week as the US Federal Reserve hiked rates for the third time since December. Here in Canada the tone was somewhat more upbeat. Bank of Canada Governor Poloz and Senior Deputy Wilkins delivered hawkish speeches confirming that the Bank of Canada has taken a more optimistic view of the economy.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 5 – Jun 9, 2017

A surprise increase in employment mixed with a light week of domestic issuance contributed to an improved tone in Canadian credit last week, specifically in higher quality utility and infrastructure issuers. Credit was also better in the US as investors quickly moved past the testimony of FBI director, James Comey, to focus on expectations of a dovish hike from the FOMC next week.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 29 – Jun 2, 2017

Despite the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and a surprisingly soft May employment report, global equity and credit markets managed to finish the week modestly positive. Canada continues to wade through a glut of May issuance and credit negative headlines from a number of institutions.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 22 – May 26, 2017

Risk markets held a steadier tone last week with Trump’s Middle East trip providing some relief from ongoing White House revelations. While credit indices were generally flat, headlines continue to impact individual names and sectors both positively and negatively.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 15 – May 19, 2017

Global credit markets experienced a wobble last week following ongoing revelations President Trump may have attempted to influence the FBI investigation into Russian collusion. After an multi-week period of relative calm, Wednesday saw enough of a risk selloff to prompt some analysts to suggest it was time to “sell in May” and spend the summer months on the sidelines.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 8 – May 12, 2017

Canadian credit took a step back this week as the Moodys downgrade of Canadian banks shifted investors’ focus to the frailty of the Canadian macro environment. Additionally, investors have started to take note of companies slipping from Investment grade to high yield, specifically Sobeys ($EMPA) and Home Capital Group ($HCG).

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 1 – May 5, 2017

Risk assets finished off a volatile week in the black due to a Friday rally spurred by the resurgence in oil, decent US employment metrics, and confidence that centrist candidate, Emmanuel Macron, would defeat Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election over the weekend.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Apr 24 – Apr 28, 2017

Risk assets started off the week on a strong note as investors cheered the results of the first round of the French elections, which saw the moderate Macron go through to the second round along with right-wing candidate Le Pen. French bank spreads were significantly tighter as the market discounted the likelihood of a French referendum on Europe. Throughout the week, a mix of strong earnings and White House talk of a 15% corporate tax rate kept markets higher.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Apr 17 – Apr 21, 2017

Positive earnings from US banks weighed against heightened geopolitical tensions to produce a stalemate for global credit markets last week. Canadian credit continues to outperform as has been the theme all year. European credit news was dominated by the French elections – we saw short-covering late last week pushing spreads tighter.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Apr 10 – Apr 13, 2017

The holiday-shortened week contained plenty of market moving news as geo-political tensions continue to grow, pushing down global yields. The progressing threat of North Korea’s nuclear program prompted a flight to safer assets, with Canadian credit outperforming other regions.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Apr 3 – Apr 7, 2017

Credit spreads were broadly unchanged this week despite an unexpectedly poor U.S. jobs report and heightened geo-political tension in Syria. President Trump’s decision to quietly launch a missile attack on a Syrian air base Thursday prompted a flight to safety early Friday morning.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Mar 27 – Mar 31, 2017

Credit markets finished off the strong quarter on a good note as credit spreads retraced the widening experienced last week. Notably, there was a strong secondary bid for BBB rated credits across the curve, solidifying the constructive tone in the bond market.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Mar 20 – Mar 24, 2017

Markets struck a bearish tone throughout the week as issues related to the passing of the Republican health care bill created uncertainty over President Trump’s ability to deliver on his pro-growth campaign promises. Compared to the weakness in the equity markets, domestic credit was muted with weakness concentrated in the financial, auto and REIT sectors.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Mar 13 – Mar 17, 2017

Market sentiment shifted to a risk-on tone as the well-advertised Fed hike turned out to be more dovish than expected. The right pace of future hikes put the risk markets in a positive mood, which helped tighten credit spreads.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Mar 6 – Mar 10, 2017

US credit was under moderate pressure this week as high yield indices are currently on their weakest run since last November. Lower oil prices and a heavy new issue calendar are cited as the primary drivers. Investment Grade markets were similarly lower though outperformed high yield overall.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Feb 27 – Mar 3, 2017

President Trump’s speech to congress on Tuesday was enough to drive credit spreads tighter this week as investors were encouraged by an upbeat and conciliatory tone. Later in the week attention turned to the Fed Funds rate, where a series of speeches and statements by Fed members actively promoted a March rate hike.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Feb 21 – Feb 24, 2017

Most sectors were tighter again this week amid continued solid demand, robust earnings, balanced trading flows, and a decreasing supply of new issues. Investment grade bond sales fell for the third consecutive week, slumping to the lowest weekly total of the year.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Feb 13 – Feb 17, 2017

The testimony by Fed Chair Yellen last week did not materially change expectations for credit markets as they continued to advance alongside global equities. The main cloud on the horizon (apart from Trump-related uncertainty) continues to be the French political situation.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Feb 6 – Feb 10, 2017

A steady week for commodities and treasury yields saw global stocks reach new highs. France was in the spotlight last week as political headlines suggest a hotly contested presidential race this year.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jan 30 – Feb 3, 2017

Despite generally flat risk markets, it was possible to make money in credit last week. Plenty of headlines including a Fairfax bond tender and General Motors upgrade provided opportunities.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jan 23 – Jan 27, 2017

Stable earnings, moderating supply, and the Dow reaching 20,000 were enough to send global credit markets tighter for the week. Despite the milestone in stocks, the outlook remains somewhat cautious as Trump’s early enactments maintain a distinctly protectionist and populist tone.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jan 16 – Jan 20, 2017

Investors remained cautious ahead of the inauguration of a new US president, but also as events in Europe continued to swing sentiment. US credit continues to be hampered by the wall of supply (mostly financials) and languishing equity markets. Canadian credit continues to outperform with new issues well-subscribed and trading tighter.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jan 9 – Jan 13, 2017

The pace of activity picked up mid-week with heavy issuance on both sides of the border and positive earnings from American financials. While the macro market continues to deal with the implications of a new government in the US, credit spreads (ex-financials) continue to feel relatively strong.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jan 3 – Jan 6, 2017

New Issues started off strong in 2017 as companies, lead mostly by financial issuers, introduced approximately USD $50 billion of debt within the first couple days of the year. The surprise amount proved hard to digest considering USD $90 billion of new issues are expected this month.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Dec 23 – 30, 2016

Credit spreads were relatively unchanged over the holidays as light trading volume and light issuance spurred little demand. Treasury yields moved slightly lower to end the year as investors took profits and moved to safe assets to start 2017. Investment grade credit, high yield, and preferred shares all finished the year with impressive returns.
Looking forward to 2017, American credit is in a good position to outperform on the back of a new president and strong economic data. In Europe, there are many potential developments early in 2017 that will challenge global bond spreads including the potential for the enactment of Article 50 and the fragile state of Italian Banks. Canada’s continuous disappointing low growth will also keep things interesting domestically while stable oil prices should be supportive for energy sector spreads.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Dec 12 – Dec 16, 2016

Despite delivering a heavily telegraphed 25bp rate hike on Wednesday, Fed governors still managed to surprise markets by pointing to a more aggressive path for rates in 2017. Treasury yields continued to move higher, with the yield on some securities now having doubled since the summer lows. Prices of ten-year Treasuries have fallen 8.5% in just 9 weeks and now look set to deliver the worst annual returns since 2013.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Dec 5 – Dec 9, 2016

The melt-up in stocks this week had a positive effect on credit markets as things begin to quiet down for the holiday break.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 28- Dec 2, 2016

Canada and US credit continues to perform well. However, sector and curve performance are mixed. Non-financials are leading the charge while US financials have been held back by increased supply. 10-year credit is notably underperforming while 30-year is performing well, as pension and insurance investors take advantage of higher all-in yields. Energy sector spreads were tighter this week following the OPEC decision on Wednesday to cut global oil production by 3.5% which sent crude prices back above $50/bbl.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 21- Nov 25, 2016

A quiet week given the US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  Credit markets have diverged somewhat since the US election, with US feeling moderately better, Europe weaker, while Canada has enjoyed a particularly strong month.  Interest rate markets were relatively subdued, and the calm was a welcome relief from what has been a difficult month for government bond traders.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 14- Nov 18, 2016

Interest rates continue to push higher this week with the US 10 year yield rising another 15bp to a 12 month high. The TMX Canadian Bond Universe index has now given up over 50% of its year-to-date gains in just two weeks and highlights the benefit of diversifying your fixed income allocation away from rate-sensitive strategies.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Nov 7 – Nov 10, 2016

Away from the equity rally which has caught most of the media attention last week, the big story around the unexpected Trump victory has been the sharp moves higher in global interest rates. This volatility represents some of the largest single day moves in the past five years, and in one week has unwound much of the bond gains of the year.  Credit has been reasonably orderly, at least on a spread basis, and in fact, many sectors benefitted from higher all-in yields and anticipation of higher US growth.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 31 – Nov 4, 2016

Pre-occupation with a suddenly tightening Presidential race dictated market tone for the first week of November

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 24 – Oct 28, 2016

Earnings, politics and interest rates were firmly in the spotlight this week, contributing to a mixed week for credit markets.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 17 – Oct 21, 2016

A positive week for most asset classes, with bonds and stocks finishing the week higher. Gains in credit were modest but extended a three-month trend of spread tightening.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 10 – Oct 14, 2016

Interest rates continue to be the main story, with 30-year treasury yields now 25bp higher over the past two weeks up to a four-month high as part of a broad-based selloff globally. Away from rates,  it was a mixed week for risk markets overall, and for the most part investment grade credit spreads continue to outperform.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Oct 3 – Oct 7, 2016

In a week of falling bonds and stocks, credit was a notable outperformer with investors globally electing to sell government debt to buy corporate paper. The move in bond yields was precipitated by a report out of Europe that the ECB was considering plans to taper their bond-purchase program sometime in 2017.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sept 26 – Sept 30, 2016
European bank debt generally was wider last week in sympathy with Deutsche, while US credit was mixed and Canada continues to outperform.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sept 19 – Sept 23, 2016

Central Banks were at the forefront of investor thoughts last week, with both the Bank of Japan and US Federal Reserve meeting to discuss rate policy.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sept 12 – Sept 16, 2016

Investment Grade Credit had its share of challenges this week with continued heavy issuance against a backdrop of falling equity and bond markets globally. For the most part credit volatility remains relatively low and trading is orderly compared to what is happening in other markets.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Sept 5 – Sept 9, 2016

Are we on the verge of another Taper Tantrum? Stock and bond markets appeared to being contemplating that possibility as both sold off sharply Thursday and Friday following a status-quo pronouncement from the European Central Bank early Thursday.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 29 – Sept 2, 2016

Typical for late summer it was a fairly subdued week in credit markets punctuated by the US employment report on Friday, which came in about 30k below expectations.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 22 – 26, 2016

Janet Yellen’s speech on Friday was seen as modestly hawkish as she highlighted the solid growth of the American economy and reiterated the Fed’s intention to further raise rates. Subsequent comments by Fed Vice-Chair Stanley Fischer left little doubt that a September hike remains on the table subject to economic data releases between now and then.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 15-19, 2016

As we enter the final weeks of summer, North American corporate bond markets quieted as new issue activity and secondary trade volume fell considerably from last week. The FOMC released the July Fed meeting minutes showing a degree of disagreement among committee members regarding the appropriate path of US interest rates. Investors read the minutes with a risk-on tone and we saw markets continue to rally, helped in part by the ongoing fall in the US dollar (which reversed somewhat on Friday).
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 8-12, 2016

North American corporate bond markets continued to be unseasonably active last week with high levels of new issue activity in both Canada and the US. In terms of corporate bond issuance in the US, we look set to reach double the average volume for August of the past 3 years. Issuers are keen to take advantage of the lowest all-in yields of the year, and for the time being investors are welcoming with open arms. Pricing concessions have notably compressed, and it’s not unusual to see new bonds price at or inside secondary spreads.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Aug 2-5, 2016

August certainly began with a bang not a whimper as the US had its busiest issuance week since May, and fifth busiest week of 2016. Microsoft was largely responsible, successfully launching nearly $20 billion of new bonds on Monday August 1st while most Canadians were still sipping Corona’s at the cottage. Interestingly we found some better bargains to be had among this week’s crop, with the combination of heavy volume and softer tone (at least earlier in the week) led to healthier pricing concessions than we’ve seen in a while.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 25-29, 2016

A modest pullback in global credit markets last week rounded out what nevertheless remained a positive month of July. The fall in oil prices back towards $40 weighed heavily on energy names; but credit spreads continue to remain tighter than when oil was last at $40 in April and we are cautious on the sector overall. US new issue market remained busy, however concessions have shrunk to virtually nothing which combined with the softer market tone meant after-market performance was limited for most deals. The Canadian new issue market was very quiet this week.
The US Federal Reserve unsurprisingly left rates on hold again in July. While the statement released on Wednesday left the door open for a September hike, market participants remain skeptical that we will see a rate hike in 2016. Government yields across the globe rallied last week, and as a result finished the month generically flat after selling off sharply mid-month.
Finally the results of European Bank stress tests were released late on Friday night. While there were some obvious (and expected) shortfalls, most notably Italian bank Monte di Paschi, overall the results were better than expected and should give markets some comfort that bank balance sheets continue to improve, even as earnings are weighed down by restructuring costs.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 18-22, 2016

Credit continued to perform this week as stocks rose moderately and government yields were broadly stable. European markets led the way, with bank spreads playing catch-up to the bounce in corporates. European bank spreads remain wider than pre-Brexit while corporate and US bank spreads have broadly recovered to year-to-date tights. Energy sector spreads lagged this week as oil continues to trade below $50.

New issue supply held steady, with US banks active this week following earnings releases. Canadian supply looks on pace for a July record. Secondary trade volumes have been robust, and higher than one would expect for late July. Overall tone continues to look good, despite some signs of rally fatigue by week’s end.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 11-15, 2016

Government yields globally reversed the course of the past few weeks and started to move higher last week, with 10 year rates up 15 basis points in Canada (to 1.10%), 24 basis points in the US (1.59%), and 19 basis points in Germany (0.00%). Equity markets saw new highs, and credit markets rallied accordingly as higher rates made all-in corporate bond yields more attractive. Q2 earnings season has started, with the initial results from financial benchmarks of JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo all showing modest improvements.

New issue markets were busy, and despite deals typically priced significantly tighter than initial guidance most saw decent follow-on buying. Month-to-date issuance volumes remain below expectations, suggesting we may experience higher levels of supply in back end of July.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jul 4-8, 2016

Despite a holiday shortened week with thin volumes, there were plenty of market moving events that impacted the credit markets over the past few days:

  • – Short sale restrictions/steep equity declines on certain Italian banks on concerns over non-performing loans,
  • – UK property funds restricting redemptions
  • – FBI not recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton,
  • – FED policy meeting minutes from June expressed concern about job growth and the potential threat from a “Leave” vote,
  • – US treasuries continued on their path towards lower yields, with the 10yr hitting a low of 1.319% (a level not seen in over 50 years!)
  • – Equity markets were strong with many indices recovering all of their losses from the June 23rd Brexit vote.
  • – Nonfarm Payrolls for June were well above expectations at a gain of 287k (is the September rate rise back on the table?)

Credit markets were generally better this week, with much of the strength coming from non-European financials and mid-rated US & CAN corporates. In Europe, financials recovered much of the early week losses although they are still net down on the week. New issues were very active in the middle of the week, with many issuers aggressively looking to take advantage of lower all-in yields and a healthy market appetite for product.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 27-30, 2016

June ended on a positive note after a volatile month. While UK politicians begin a game of cat-and-mouse with the EU, central banks chose rhetoric over action, to good effect. Bank of England governor Mark Carney suggested a rate cut to come at some point this summer, while unnamed ECB sources described an expanded bond-buying program to counteract Brexit related volatility. With Britain clearly playing a longer term game rather than triggering Article 50 exit provisions immediately, the market decided there was no reason to panic just yet, and we saw a widespread short-covering rally. June finished lower overall, but with positive momentum, which continued on the Canada Day Friday in the US and Europe.
The other conclusion markets made from this week is that rates are headed lower. US treasuries finished their best month since January 2015; 30 year notes up 8% and yields falling to 2.28%. In terms of yield, treasuries are testing all-time lows, and a sustained break below 1.38% in 10y or 2.22% in 30 years will take us into uncharted territory. The prospect of lower yields for longer is clearly contributing to the equity rally, and as we saw both stocks and bonds rally this week, it is reasonable to expect that, at some point, the reverse will occur.
With major event risk out of the way and a July rate hike seemingly off the table, there does look to be some clear runway for a credit rally through the summer. However liquidity will inevitably be thin, and political headlines out of the US and UK will only increase. In Europe, recapitalization situations around Italian banks and Deutsche Bank will continue. We look to position ourselves constructively, but cautiously.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 20-24, 2016

It goes without saying what the top story of the week was. Britain’s unexpected decision to exit Europe caught markets off guard and more than reversed what had been an otherwise positive week for global credit. It’s too soon to predict the long term ramifications – negotiations can’t even commence until Britain identifies a new leader after Cameron’s resignation – however we would remind investors that Investment Grade credit should prove a more robust strategy than most. UK banking, construction and travel industries were hit the hardest, but all sectors and regions were wider/lower on a tumultuous Friday, including North America. Trade volumes were muted, which suggests credit investors are content to watch and wait for more details. We do think that until we know who is favoured to be the British Prime Minister, what their plan is for renegotiating European trade agreements, and how Europe reacts to those proposals, we are in for a summer of ongoing market volatility. We intend to selectively add risk in this weakness, but will not be in an immediate rush.
Canada should prove a relative safe haven through the turmoil, though is not immune to a global selloff. The drop in oil back below $50, if sustained, will negatively impact what had been a productive first half of the year for Canadian credit. In rates news, futures markets are now pricing no US rate increases in 2016, and actually suggest a chance of a rate cut (recall in December the Fed predicted 4 rate hikes in 2016 – and we have yet to have even one). Not surprisingly, gold names like Barrick were higher/tighter for the week.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 13 -17, 2016

The overwhelming driver of market tone last week was developments out of Britain ahead of Thursday’s EU referendum. Sentiment deteriorated throughout the week as the Exit side has been steadily gaining momentum, in a campaign that has become notably more mean-spirited and vitriolic. The fatal shooting on Thursday of pro-Remain MP Jo Cox may prove to be a turning point, as the conversation over the weekend seemed to swing sharply away from anger towards empathy. As we write markets are rallying on expectation of a remain victory. Despite the swing in betting odds we think the outcome is still too close to call, and an exit victory would be unequivocally bad for risk assets in the short term. However the world will not end and negotiations for Britain’s exit will be long and protracted. We will be watchful for buying opportunities on any precipitous fall in our markets.

The Federal Reserve meeting came and went last week without much fanfare. US Interest rates were left unchanged as expected, and we’ll do the whole thing again in July and September. Overall it was a fairly quiet week in credit, with no new issues in Canada and WestJet’s inaugural USD deal the only issuer of note in the US. Despite a lower week for oil Canada remains a relative safe haven for credit.

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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: Jun 6 -10, 2016
Another schizophrenic week for risk markets as we head towards the FOMC rate decision on Wednesday and Brexit vote next week. Friday was the weakest day which reflects a lack of conviction heading into a weekend (when new opinion polls out of the UK might serve to alter the risk landscape). Interest rates globally reached extreme levels, with 10 year bund yields on the verge of going negative (Friday’s intraday low was 0.01%) and US treasuries reaching a 3-year low at 1.63%. Low rates would appear to be the norm for the time being; however experience tells us the lower we go the harder we will snap back when sentiment inevitably changes. As Bill Gross suggested on Thursday, “this is a supernova that will explode one day”.
Despite storm clouds on the fundamental side there are technical reasons to remain optimistic about credit in the near term. First, the supply calendar seems to be easing up after significant volumes of new issues in the past few weeks. Second, the ECB did commence buying of corporate bonds this week. European credit felt well bid and US credit was similarly supported. We believe there is a lot of cautious positioning around Brexit, and although there clearly remains risk to the downside if Britain votes to leave, there is also increasing potential for a “melt-up” in stocks, rates, and credit if Britain votes to stay.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 30 – Jun 3, 2016
Just as risk markets seemed to be coming to terms with the idea of a summer rate hike, the US employment report on Friday threw a significant wrench in the works. The lowest gain in (seasonally adjusted) non-farm payroll figures since 2010 sent the dollar lower, treasuries higher, and left risk markets unsure what to do next. Are stock markets happy that rates may not go up anytime soon, or unhappy that US economic growth may be stalling? We’d make two observations which we think are pertinent, if inconclusive.
First, the seasonal adjustment in the May number is significant. On an adjusted basis the US added only 38 thousand jobs, but on an unadjusted basis there was an increase of 651 thousand jobs. This merely highlights the amount of noise in the process, and that investors do better to consider trends rather than rely too heavily on any one number. Our second observation is the market is quick to conclude that the Fed will not hike in June as a result of this employment report (Fed futures and options markets priced in only a 3% chance of a June hike post-number). It seems intuitively dangerous to say with certainty what conclusion a group of economists will arrive at in a closed-door session. That is not to say the Fed will hike, but the risks of a negative reaction to a surprise hike are suddenly looming large in a way they were not just a week ago.
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Beware the Downside of Dividend Income
The Wall Street Journal recently showed a chart comparing the forward earnings yield of the S&P 500 to that of the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield over the past 30 years. Around 2002-2003, the two yields were almost identical at 5%; today, the proxy yield for stocks is three times that of U.S. 10-year treasuries suggesting, at least by this valuation metric, that stocks are currently cheaper than bonds.
It’s precisely this argument that has financial advisors recommending a steady diet of dividend-paying stocks for all but their most risk-averse clients ignoring one of the most fundamental of asset allocation principles: a reasonable mix of stocks, bonds, and cash. Dividends, after all, tend to grow from year-to-year — think, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, those special companies who’ve increased ordinary dividends for at least the last 25 consecutive years, or the Canadian Dividend Aristocrats who’ve done so over the past five — protecting one’s capital from the ravages of inflation, while bonds don’t, instead paying a fixed rate of interest until maturity.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 23-27th, 2016
The last full week of May was a strong one for global risk markets including credit. A number of factors combined to drive corporate bond spreads tighter in the US and Europe. The market grew more comfortable with the idea of a June or July rate hike in the US, but continues to presume interest rates will not move materially higher over the medium term. This gives corporate bond buyers appetite to add risk, and fund flow data suggests new money continues to move into investment grade credit even as other sectors see net outflows. More positive news out of Europe, as Greece was able to negotiate additional funds from Europe this week which should prevent a July default, and Brexit polls continue to point to Britain remaining in the EU. The one market that struggled to perform this week was Canadian credit, a technical result of outperforming global markets earlier in the month, increased new issue supply, and mixed bank earnings.
The supply calendar was heavy again this week, and May 2016 looks set to finish in the top 3 months of all-time in terms of US corporate bond issuance. We expect that supply to continue in June, which leads to increased secondary turnover and a profitable environment for bond traders. The US employment report next Friday, the Fed meeting on June 15th, and the Brexit vote on June 23rd will be the key directional catalysts for the coming month before we head into the slower summer period.
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Fixed Income Investing in a Zero Interest Rate World
Canadian investors are turning their backs on traditional fixed income investments as a core component of their portfolios — should advisors be concerned? Let’s face it, with the Canadian 5-year government bond yielding just 0.8% or less than your annual management fee, the excitement generated from both advisor and client is negligible. And with Canadian core inflation currently averaging above 2%, investing in bonds virtually guarantees an erosion of your client’s capital.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 16-20th, 2016
A mixed week for risk markets which was punctuated by the release of Fed minutes from the April meeting on Wednesday. Those minutes suggested the Fed was pre-disposed to a 25 basis point hike in June. That came as a shock to rates traders, who were pricing in only a 4% chance of a June hike. Treasury markets sold off sharply, with the 5-year yield rising by as much as 11bp in the hour after the release. Despite higher rates on the week, stocks managed to remain in positive territory. Credit was mixed, with indices wider overall even though bank spreads (outside of Canada) benefitted from expectations of higher rates. European Credit benefitted from polls suggesting the “Remain” side is gaining a small but significant lead in the Brexit vote. New issue activity continues to be robust, with the $20 billion deal for Dell generating over $80 billion of demand. After breaking up to 25bp tighter, the deal struggled to hold gains by week’s end.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 9-13th, 2016
A pretty lethargic week for credit overall. Almost exactly three months after risk markets bottomed out in February, the rally is feeling tired. Stocks and bonds are trading with a limited amount of conviction, which normally precedes a change of direction. We are treading with caution.
Despite the lack of direction it was a busy week for corporate bond issuance. The US had one of its busiest weeks of the year with over $60 billion of new supply. As is typically in a late rally stage, the after-market performance of new issues was mixed, with issuers trying to squeeze out every last basis point of yield. A few underperforming deals are normally necessary to see concessions widen – it pays to be selective!
Lots of discussion around the longer term impact of ECB buying of European corporate debt, and overall that market was an underperformer this week. Issuers and investors are concerned that ECB buying will limit the amount of bonds trading in the market, which could suppress market liquidity and ultimately reduce the number of non-central bank buyers willing to participate. There is a risk that the purchase program has a negative effect on issuing spreads.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: May 2-6th, 2016
May began with a reversal of March and April sentiment as equity and credit markets sold off amid falling oil prices and poor economic data out of Europe and the US. Global interest rates fell for the second straight week. US bond yields are back near recent lows as the market continues to discount the likelihood of additional rate hikes in 2016. However we did see the market shrug off a poor employment report in the US on Friday to finish modestly higher across most sectors, which may set the table for a better week ahead.
Sentiment in Canadian credit remained positive this week, as a lack of new issue supply and rotation out of equities maintained a supportive technical environment for corporate bonds. However the wildfire tragedy in Alberta has cast negative tone across the oil & gas and insurance sectors. Intact Financial Insurance spreads widened 15-20bp, while a number of investment grade energy names were out 20-30bp.
New issue activity in the US was brisk this week, and supply is expected to be high for the balance of the month. This will create trading opportunities in our strategies; even as it puts pressure on overall spread markets.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: April 25-29, 2016
A more subdued week for international credit as earnings releases and central bank announcements kept corporate bond markets more on the sideline. As expected, the US Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, but tweaked the language on their press release to leave the door open for a hike at the next meeting in June. On Thursday the Bank of Japan surprised and disappointed the markets by not cutting rates, and we saw global equity markets trade lower into the weekend.
Canadian corporate bonds had a particularly good week fuelled in part by higher oil prices. Canadian markets had lagged the US for most of April, and played catch-up to finish the month. Government bonds sold lower as the yield on the 10-year benchmark rose 18bp this month – another factor which helped credit to rally. A new 5-year deal for international insurer Aviva launched on Wednesday was a blowout, and managed to tighten 35bp in two days. We still think the bond offers value at a 4.2% yield for 5 years on a Baa1 credit.
Overall the tone in credit remains strong, even as stock markets traded lower on the week. However, there are reasons to be cautious heading into May with stock markets showing signs of fatigue and new issue supply expected to increase.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: April 18-22nd, 2016
US bond investors appeared to have an almost insatiable appetite for credit this week, as spreads marched to a 9-month tight. Even as stocks and high yield faltered (somewhat) towards the end of the week in the face of mediocre earnings, investment grade markets continued to perform. Government yields are partly a catalyst, as the Canadian 10-year yield has now retraced all of its YTD gains. Credit spreads can tighten while benchmark yields are rising without reducing overall corporate yields.
The lack of a deal on oil supply out of Doha last weekend briefly pushed prices below $40, but the selloff was short-lived. It’s clear there were investors waiting in the wings to buy risk on any weakness. Energy sector bonds are generally finishing the week 20-40bp tighter. European Bank bonds also performed well this week as odds of a yes vote on the UK referendum were seen falling to around 30% (based on a consortium of UK bookmakers).
Central banks back in focus this week as both the US Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan hold meetings on rate policy. We expect US rates to remain unchanged but the statement will point to the potential for a June hike.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: April 11-15th, 2016
Credit markets marched to fresh tights for the year last week, led by the energy sector as oil prices managed to hold above $40 for the first time since December. Credit was also helped technically by earnings season for the S&P 500, which means many firms are in blackout from bond issuance. New issue volumes were noticeably down from the previous week. European credit underperformed as concerns over the UK referendum continue, however, the week finished on a strong note with most European bank spreads finishing at recent tights.
US economic numbers were generally disappointing for the week, suggesting that yet again the US is unable to sustain the higher pace of growth we saw in the first quarter. However for the time being US markets appear willing to believe a “Goldilocks” scenario where the economy grows at a modest pace: warm enough to avoid recession but cold enough to stem the pace of any rate hikes. We would argue two things regarding this scenario; first that the market is susceptible to economic surprises in either direction which could quickly unsettle the equilibrium, and second that in periods of tepid growth credit markets should outperform equities. Either way, we feel more comfortable participating in the relative safety of the investment grade space than stocks or high yield bonds.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: April 4-8th, 2016
With global stock markets enduring their worst week since mid-February there was a decidedly more cautious tone in global credit to start the month of April. The March FOMC minutes released on Wednesday revealed there was some debate around the pace of rate hikes in the US, and it’s clear not every Fed member shares Janet Yellen’s caution.
Technically credit remains strong with net inflows to both investment-grade and high-yield bond funds continuing into April, and overall credit markets had a modestly positive performance in what felt like a relatively quiet week. Share prices of European banks fell for the third week in a row, and we saw weakness spill over into Tier 1 debt by week’s end. At the other extreme the Canadian preferred market continues to recover well, with recent bank NVCC issues now up close to 6% to start the year.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: March 28th – April 1st, 2016
Coming out of the Easter long weekend, global risk markets were dominated by two events: a speech by Janet Yellen on Tuesday and the US employment report on Friday. We finished with credit mildly better and rates lower, although the tone was decidedly mixed by Friday. The market is seemingly baffled by opposing forces: a “dovish” Fed chair who seems content to move slowly on rates, and evidence of rising wage pressure which suggests inflation is moving higher and more rate action is warranted. We think the not-too-hot-not-too-cold scenario is a better one for credit than equities though with markets having moved a long way in 6 weeks we shall tread more cautiously in the short term.
From a technical point of view, investment-grade credit feels solid. New issue supply slowed considerably in the second half of March while IG and High Yield bonds funds saw decent inflows throughout the month. Most new issues this week performed well, and we saw consistent buying of credit into quarter-end. Next week sees us moving into earnings season, which should set the tone for risk markets in April.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: March 21-24th, 2016
A hawkish tone from various Fed speakers, a stronger US$, and a weakness in oil all contributed to a pause in the ferocious credit rally that had been in place for the past 4 weeks. The new issue calendar was light (essentially non-existent in Canada), but the US$ deals that were launched were generally well over-subscribed and fills were very light. These deals tended to initially trade better but as the week went on there was less follow-on buying and deals drifted back towards original spreads.
The Canadian Federal Budget released on Tuesday was mostly in-line with market expectations. Some comments on “bail-in” securities has the market speculating that we may see these securities as early as mid-2017 – although we do not expect a material impact to existing deposit notes/NVCC securities until further clarification is released in the upcoming months. Notable credit strength in Canada this week was seen in recently issued bank preferreds along with other wide spread BBB names in the 3-5yr maturity bucket as accounts needed to put money to work and issuance has been light.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: March 14-18th, 2016
After the ECB-led euphoria from the week before, last week was somewhat more balanced in terms of sentiment although we continue to grind tighter in credit. The US Federal Reserve offered a much more downbeat assessment of the US economy and suggested they will slow their pace of hikes over the next 2 years. The biggest reaction to that news came in currencies with the US Dollar falling over 1% against major currencies, which was enough to boost US stocks and bonds. Weekly fund flow data suggests cash is still pouring into investment-grade corporate bonds, and despite March Break and the street’s annual distraction of US college basketball, new issue activity remained brisk with over $30 billion priced in North America.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: March 7-11th, 2016
New money continues to pile into credit, but the three-week-old spread rally appeared to be running out of steam early in the week. All that changed on Thursday when the ECB unveiled a broader array of stimulus measures than the market was expecting. Perhaps most significantly was the expansion of the QE bond buying program to include investment-grade corporate debt. Details of what bonds the ECB will buy and in what size remain sketchy, but Thursday and Friday saw a sharp snap tighter in credit markets – primarily in Euro denominated debt but affecting developed market bonds worldwide. In fact, we see this as the single biggest weekly rally in credit since at least October. Interest rates continue to grind higher from the February lows and government bond yields in Canada are now close to unchanged year to date. Brazil’s first US dollar bond deal in 18 months, launched Thursday, is an indicator of the improvement in sentiment in the emerging market space. If oil holds above $35 we expect the ECB-fuelled credit rally can continue through next week.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: February 29th – March 4th, 2016
Credit markets continued to rally strongly across all regions last week. BB and BBB names outperformed with oil prices rallying and government yields rising. A strong US employment report on Friday sent 10 year treasury yields back toward 1.90% from the mid-February lows of 1.65%. Over 50 Billion of new issues priced last week suggesting investment grade demand is deep, although the High Yield market remains virtually shut. While certain names and sectors have now fully recovered year-to-date losses, many remain underwater and aggregate credit spreads remain 10% wider than in December.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: February 22-26th, 2016
Global credit markets continued to recover last week with a strong week in US High Yield. Oil’s push above $30 led to some bottom picking in energy sector bonds, as recent ratings downgrades worked their way through the system. Despite the broad based strength, European banks continue to struggle, in particular UK banks as fears of a “BrExit” dominate the headlines. Canadian bank earnings were mixed, as a new preferred deal from RBC and bond deal from TD weighed on the sector. New issue supply continues to be heavy, with new issue concessions in the US shrinking from the prior week as most deals managed to perform.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: February 16-19th, 2016
Credit markets finally got some relief this week after a difficult start to 2016. European CoCo prices were up as much at 10%, though still remain 5-10% lower on the month, and most sectors were higher. The new issue market re-opened in force, with a number of deals launched in Canada and the US. Canada in particular had its busiest week of the year so far despite the Big 6 banks being currently in earnings blackout. Concessions are healthy, and notwithstanding the overall positive tone a number of names and sectors were under price pressure due to supply. If equity markets can hold we expect more supply and that credit spreads can grind modestly tighter to close out the month.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: February 8-12th, 2016
The week started off with very poor tone. European banks were particularly under pressure, with stocks down as much as 20%, and certain Contingent Convertible (“CoCo”) bonds falling 10% on the week. Credit spread widening was broad based across most sectors, and by Thursday was lining up as the worst week of the year so far, with liquidity becoming particularly challenged. There was some respite on Friday following Deutsche Bank’s announcement of a $5 Billion debt buyback, and a number of bank executives initiating significant personal stock purchases. There were no new issues in the US last week, highlighting how poor the tone was overall. Canadian credit continues to show more resilience, but remains under pressure on very low trade volumes.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: February 1-5th, 2016
European banks were in the credit spotlight this week amid a backdrop of deteriorating risk sentiment overall. Deutsche Bank bonds traded at their widest level in nearly 4 years,after disappointing earnings and an expectation the bank will need to recapitalize itself. Fears of contagion in the banking sector sent spreads wider across Europe and the US. Energy bonds had a relatively stable week as oil prices held above $30. Despite a lack of market stability to start the year, investment grade issuance has remained on pace with 2015, whereas high yield issuance is down by 50%. With unemployment below 5% in the US and evidence of rising wage pressure, Janet Yellen will be treading a fine line this week to when she testifies to Congress and the Senate.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: January 25-29th, 2016
A disappointing week in Investment Grade Credit considering the strong bounce in equities to close the month. Credit was slow to sell off earlier in January, so not unreasonable that there is some catch up. While the US Federal Reserve may have disappointed the market on Wednesday by not stating that rate hikes were on pause, the Bank of Japan made up for it on Friday with a surprise rate cut to negative 0.1. Government bonds in the US and Europe rallied, while Canada bonds continued to under perform as the currency strengthens. Despite the bounce in oil prices, we saw energy sector bonds remain near recent lows. If the improved market tone holds, we expect increased bond issuance next week, which may account for some of the spread weakness heading into month end.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: January 18-22nd, 2016
Risk markets finally found some moderate stability in the third week of the year after reaching a low on Wednesday with global equities down as much as 12%. We finished the week with a decidedly more positive tone as Chinese stocks bounced and oil managed to close above $30. Investment Grade Credit markets continue to recoil from equity volatility and new issue activity remains well below normal for this time of year. The Bank of Canada’s decision on Wednesday to keep rates unchanged sent government bonds lower with a flatter rate curve. If Oil and China remain calm this week, attention in the US will turn to corporate earnings.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: January 11-15th, 2016
A second straight week of heavy selling in global equities led to a more severe widening of investment grade credit spreads, particularly on Friday. It continues to feel like credit is being dragged by equity and commodity markets, rather than acting as a leading indicator as it was in the second half of 2015. AB InBev completed the second largest ever bond transaction, raising $46 Billion through a multi-tranche USD deal launched on Wednesday. The deal attracted an all-time record $120 billion of orders and finished the week flat or marginally wider. Canadian banks continue to raise senior money in foreign markets, while focusing on NVCC issuance here in Canada. The TD NVCC preferred launched last week at 5.5% managed to trade up 1.2% despite the Canadian preferred index falling heavily to start the year.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: January 4-8th, 2016
Investment grade credit markets were remarkably well behaved to start the new year, given the pain felt in most asset classes (North American stocks -5%, Oil -11%). Spreads widened modestly amidst good two way flow throughout the week. There is evidence of investors shifting from equities to bonds as ongoing uncertainty around China, commodity prices, and Fed Rate hikes weigh on market sentiment. New issue activity was robust, though limited to Tuesday and Friday when the markets were at their most calm. Canadian banks were active, launching covered bonds in Europe and a new domestic preferred deal from TD.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: December 21-31st, 2015
Following the Fed hike on December 16th credit markets fell into a normal festive season stupor, with low trading volumes and no new issue activity in the past two weeks. Credit spreads were relatively stable and managed to rebound somewhat from the weakness which beset the first half of the month, however most credit indices still finished the month negative for December and for 2015 overall. The final two weeks did see the typical year-end reach for carry, with notable strength in 2-3yr BBB and BB rated credits.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: December 14-18th, 2015
The week began with heightened volatility and unease concerning high levels of fund redemptions, particularly in High Yield. By Wednesday the market had settled somewhat, and the US Federal Reserve ushered in a new era of interest rates with its first move from zero in 7 years. The market initially rallied on the “slow and steady” rhetoric by the Fed, despite expectations of four more rate hikes anticipated in 2016. In that latter half of the week, ongoing concerns over oil (and energy/mining in general) reversed all of the earlier gains, and treasuries were well bid with US equities turning back to negative on the year. Although price action in investment grade credit remains muted compared to high yield, we saw increased selling in many sectors with financials 3-4bps wider on active trading. There were no new issues priced this week (save for some high grade bank issues in Europe), and with many market participants leaving for holidays we anticipate thin trading until the new year. January is typically a strong month for risk assets, as investors return with fresh outlooks and money to be put to work. There is good reason to believe this pattern will repeat in 2016.
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High Yield Credit in Crisis: What’s next for corporate bond markets?: December 15, 2015
Junk bonds roared into the headlines this week, with talk of fund liquidations and suspended redemptions triggering a panic selloff on Friday and Monday that rocked global risk markets. Many are wondering if this is a sign of things to come as the Fed looks set to raise rates for the first time in almost a decade on Wednesday.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: December 7-11th, 2015
Oil prices fell to an 11-year low which triggered a difficult week for risk assets, in particular High Yield bonds which were broadly down 5% in the past 5 days. Friday saw considerable discussion around bond market liquidity after US High Yield mutual fund Third Avenue suspended redemptions. Investment Grade markets had their worst week since September, although spread moves are considerably more subdued (and liquidity more robust) than High Yield. The Canadian Preferred market was notable for two large Bank NVCC deals priced at 5.5% – similar paper was being issued at 3.6% as recently as March – which drove market prices back to YTD lows. TD, BNS and National Bank were all active issuers in US dollars this week. Unless oil prices stabilize the likelihood of a Santa Claus rally is fading fast.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: November 30th – December 4th, 2015
A choppy week for global risk markets with most major equity and bond markets finishing in the red. Disappointment with the latest round of easing announcements from the European Central Bank, combined with a solid employment report out of the US has set the table for higher rates to finish the year. Credit markets were busy and generally positive on the week; we believe heading into 2016 that a period of gradually rising rates and tepid growth in the US is a better environment for credit than equity. Canadian bank capital received a boost with BMO and BNS both launching successful NVCC sub debt deals, and BNS filing to bring a US dollar NVCC deal in the next week – a first for a Canadian bank. Expect another busy week of new issuance next week and then things to slow down into year end.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: November 23-27th, 2015

A predictably subdued week in credit given the US Thanksgiving holiday. Only $3Bn of new supply in US corporate bonds compared to $37Bn the week before, and secondary trading was largely over by mid-day Wednesday. Spreads were broadly unchanged, with themes from this month continuing to play out (metals & mining underperforming, financials outperforming). In Canada, HSBC managed to raise $1Bn in a 3 year deal that priced with a 10bp concession to secondary spreads and was generally well received despite the large size. Activity levels were more normal in Europe with a number of new deals pricing. Volkswagen spreads continue to recover, as much as 50bp tighter on the week in European markets.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: November 16-20th, 2015

Credit Spreads are marginally tighter after a subdued week in the wake of the Paris attacks. Spreads in commodity related sectors (Mining, Oil & Gas) continued to widen this month, while Financial spreads tightened. The Canadian market continues to outperform US & Europe due to a lack of supply. Three new deals in Canada this week were well received, including Choice Properties REIT which saw excellent demand despite zero concession. In the US supply continues at a brisk pace. US Mutual fund and ETF flow data suggest Investment Grade funds continued to see marginal inflows this week, compared to significant outflows for both Equity and High Yield.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: November 9-13th, 2015

Investment Grade spreads closing marginally wider on the week, dragged down by deteriorating equity and high yield markets, and ongoing supply in the US. On balance higher rated corporate bonds remain well bid, with institutional investors reported to be increasing their holdings in recent weeks. New deals continue to be well received, with quality name deals performing on the break. In Canada, a lack of supply has kept spreads near recent tights, though we anticipate more new issue activity in the second half of the month.
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Highlights from the week in Corporate Credit: November 2-6th, 2015

Credit markets continued to trade with a positive tone throughout the week despite equities fading after Tuesday. A solid employment report on Friday has pushed the likelihood of a December Fed hike up to 70% according to futures markets, with many pundits suggesting it’s now a virtual certainty. US 5y yields have moved up 45bp in the past 3 weeks driving Treasury prices down 2%. Corporate new issue supply was solid in the US with 43Bn priced. Halliburton’s jumbo deal (A2/A) was long anticipated and well received despite pricing 35bp through initial guidance, reflecting strong demand for investment grade bonds. Canada supply continues to be very light, suggesting the technical rally could continue into next week.
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2015 Credit Market Outlook

The defining story for the global bond market in 2014 was interest rates, but not in the way many predicted at the start of the year. 2014 was meant to be about the end of Quantitative Easing in the US, and the shift from an accommodative to a tightening bias by the Federal Reserve, with most analysts forecasting steeper yield curves and 10 year rates to rise from 3% towards 4%. The Fed acted as expected but in the face of deteriorating global growth, lower inflation, and growing anticipation of a quantitative easing program in Europe, rate curves actually flattened and 10 year government yields in Canada and the US ended the year at 18 month lows near 2%.
Read moreLawrence Park Weekly Credit Report Aug 2 – Aug 5 2016

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