Moody’s warns it could cut credit ratings of 6 big banks in US

New York: Moody’s has put the credit ratings of six large US banks, including Bank of New York Mellon, State Street and Northern Trust, under review for a possible downgrade, sending stocks tumbling as investors worried about more banking sector pain ahead, the media reported.

The credit ratings agency said that its warning on the three banks reflected “ongoing strain” in the US banking sector, including increased pressures on funding and potential “weaknesses” in the amount of capital lenders are required to hold, CNN reported.

A lower credit rating could push funding costs for those banks even higher.

US stocks sank on the news, with the Dow falling more than 400 points, or 1.2 per cent, lower. The S&P 500 also fell 1 per cent, and the Nasdaq was 1.2 per cent lower.

Bank stocks in particular fell on the news. Wells Fargo lost 2.7 per cent, JPMorgan Chase 2.3 per cent and Bank of America 3.5 per cent, among others.

The US banking industry was shaken earlier this year by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic in quick succession.

The KBW Bank Index fell 3.3 per cent, on track for its biggest one-day drop since May, when the collapse of regional lender First Republic Bank sent financial stocks slumping.

A series of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve dented US banks, a factor Moody’s mentioned.

“Higher interest rates continue to reduce the value of US banks’ fixed rate securities and loans and interest rate risk is not captured well in US bank regulation and thus can create liquidity risks,” Moody’s noted in each of the warnings, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, top Wall Street banks, including several Wells Fargo companies, will pay a combined $549 million in fines after admitting that their employees, “including those at senior levels”, often communicated through various messaging platforms on their personal devices, including iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal, about the business of their employers.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fined the banks for being unable to produce those “off-channel” employee communications going back to at least 2019.

The SEC charged 11 firms for widespread and longstanding failures by the firms and their employees to maintain and preserve electronic communications.

They acknowledged that their conduct violated record-keeping provisions of the federal securities laws and agreed to pay combined penalties of $289 million.

“While some broker-dealers and investment advisers have heeded this message, self-reported violations, or improved internal policies and procedures, today’s actions remind us that many still have not,” Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The US CFTC also fined top Wall Street banks to the tune of $260 million for similar reasons.

Image courtesy of File photo

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