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Covid-19: S&P Global sees US, European corporate default rates doubling

S&P predicted U.S. corporate default rates would rise to 12.5% from 6.2% and saw Europe's rate going to 8.5% from 3.8%.

Topics
S&P global Ratings | US companies | European Union

Reuters  |  LONDON 

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By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - The COVID-19 shock will double company default rates across the United States and Europe over the next 9 months, ratings agency S&P Global said on Tuesday, although it noted that the record downgrade pace of recent months was now slowing.

S&P predicted U.S. corporate default rates would rise to 12.5% from 6.2% and saw Europe's rate going to 8.5% from 3.8%.

This year's crisis has already seen more than 2,000 companies' or countries' ratings or 'outlook' scores cut and nearly $400 billion worth of debt drop into 'junk' territory, but in the months ahead focus will shift to defaults and survival.

Alexandra Dimitrijevic, S&P's Global Head of Research, said that with the number of firms on downgrade warnings at record levels -- 37% of the S&P rates and 30% of the banks -- and credit quality dropping, default rates are set to jump.

"One third of speculative-grade are rated B- or below in Europe, which is up 10 percentage points compared to before the (COVID) crisis. So that is why we expect the default rate to effectively double".

The firm's base case is that a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available by the middle of next year.

In a situation where it takes longer and more lockdowns are required, U.S. default rates could be as high as 15%. The optimistic scenario is for a 4% rate, it added. The previous records of 12.5% and 12% were seen during the Asia crisis and after the global financial crisis just over a decade ago

A breakdown of the details shows how the coronavirus has divided the global economy. Between 70% to 85% of energy, transport, media and automotive firms have been hit by rating moves whereas the big tech firms have seen barely any impact.

 

 

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, October 06 2020. 20:27 IST
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