Fund Flows & Issuance: According to a Wells Fargo report, flows week to date were -$0.1 billion and year to date flows stand at $2.0 billion. New issuance for the week was $3.1 billion and year to date issuance is at $63.7 billion.
(Bloomberg) High Yield Market Highlights
- It’s looking like a risk-off day in the junk-bond market as stock futures fall amid renewed concerns about the spread of the coronavirus outside China.
- CAA yields, meanwhile, have crossed the 10% mark for the first time in three weeks.
- Issuers are likely to remain on the sidelines Friday and the calendar is light, though Bausch Health is expected to emerge with a $3.25b junk-bond that’s part of a broader $8b refinancing
- Yields rose 4bps to 5.13%, the biggest jump in three weeks though the index posted a modest gain of 0.018%
- BA yields rose 4ps to 3.64%, single-B yields rose to 5%
(Bloomberg) Macy’s, Renault Add to Fallen Angel Fear With Downgrades to Junk
- The credit-rating downgrades of Macy’s Inc. and Renault SA to junk status are rekindling fears among investors of a potential uptick in so-called fallen angels after a run of relative tranquility in the U.S. corporate bond market.
- The American retailer and French carmaker each lost an investment-grade rating Tuesday, affecting billions of dollars of debt. They follow Kraft Heinz Co., the iconic U.S. packaged-food company, which was downgraded to junk by two credit raters last Friday as its turnaround shows little signs of progress.
- Even though Macy’s and Renault were downgraded for idiosyncratic reasons and will still trade in investment-grade indexes unless another credit-rating company follows suit, their cuts bring back to the fore what had been a central concern among investors less than two years ago: That a slowing global economy could hamper companies’ ability to service their obligations, especially those that had taken on significant debt loads to finance deals.
- While many firms took actions to reduce debt levels in 2019, several are still proving to be susceptible to ratings risk. Kraft Heinz alone, with around $21 billion of debt leaving the Bloomberg Barclays investment-grade index at the end of this month, nearly eclipses last year’s fallen angel volume of just under $22 billion, according to Bank of America Corp. strategists. Macy’s has about $8 billion of total debt, while Renault’s roughly $66 billion is predominantly denominated in euros and yen, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
- By year-end, the volume of fallen angels is likely to dwarf that of 2019, according UBS Group AG strategists led by Matthew Mish. They predict there could be as much as $90 billion of investment-grade debt downgraded to high yield this year. Guggenheim Partners has said as much as 20% of BBBs in the U.S., or $660 billion, will get cut to junk in the next downgrade wave.
(Reuters) U.S. labor market remains strong; manufacturing likely stabilizing
- The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose modestly last week, suggesting sustained labor market strength that could help to support the economy amid risks from the coronavirus and weak business investment.
- There was encouraging news on the struggling manufacturing sector, with other data on Thursday showing factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated to a three-year high in February, likely as tensions in the 19-month trade war between the United States and China diminished.
- But the coronavirus, which has killed more than 2,000 people, mostly in China, and Boeing’s suspension last month of the production of its troubled 737 MAX jetliner, grounded in March 2019 after two fatal crashes, continue to loom over the manufacturing sector.
- Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Jan. 28-29 meeting published on Wednesday showed policymakers “expected economic growth to continue at a moderate pace,” but expressed concern about possible economic risks from the coronavirus, which has also infected thousands globally.
- “Manufacturing growth may be past its trough,” said Oren Klachkin, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York. “However, looking ahead we continue to believe that activity will advance at a lackluster pace as global growth and trade policy headwinds are unlikely to significantly relent and the negative impact of the coronavirus will be felt via global supply chains interlinkages.”
(Bloomberg) Aecom Conference Cancellation May Increase Deal Rumblings
- Reports on Aecom not attending two industrial conferences this week are being “seen as a positive indication that the company might be in later-stage negotiations for a deal,” Baird analyst Andrew Wittmann wrote in a note.
- Baird confirmed that Aecom canceled from a Citi conference, and is not in attendance at a Barclays conference
- Wittmann noted previous reports that Aecom had been approached by WSP Global regarding a deal