Mar 23, 2023
First Republic Rises With Peers After Selloff on Yellen Comments
(Bloomberg) -- First Republic Bank finished lower on Thursday, after briefly erasing declines when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said regulators would be prepared to take additional steps to guard bank deposits if warranted.
The bank’s stock flipped between gains and losses ahead of Yellen’s testimony, swinging about 10% in each direction. The KBW Bank Index also churned between red and green, briefly paring declines on Yellen’s remarks before closing lower. First Republic fell about 6% on the day.
“The strong actions we have taken ensure that Americans’ deposits are safe,” Yellen said in remarks released by the Treasury. “Certainly, we would be prepared to take additional actions if warranted.”
It’s been a turbulent stretch. On Wednesday, bank stocks fell when Yellen said regulators weren’t looking to provide “blanket” deposit insurance to stabilize the US banking system.
Comerica Inc. and Zions Bancorporation were among the day’s worst-performing stocks in the S&P 500 Index, falling more than 8% each. A Truist Securities analyst slashed his price targets on more than two dozen names across lenders earlier. PacWest Bancorp also sank, closing at a record low.
First Republic has plummeted over the past few weeks amid growing turmoil in the industry, leaving shares down about 90% this year and erasing $20 billion of market value. The swift demise of three banks, including Silicon Valley Bank, spurred worries over liquidity and saw clients pull funds.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday said the US banking system is sound, and pushed back against market speculation that the central bank will cut rates this year.
Sentiment remains fragile. Fitch Ratings lowered First Republic on Wednesday, citing its new more costly funding profile, following S&P Global Inc.’s downgrade over the weekend. Citigroup Inc. analysts moved the lender’s rating to “under review” on Wednesday given volatility in the shares.
Still, the bank-stock losses on Thursday are on the tame side relative to the volatile swings of recent days. After plunging 20% through the two prior weeks, the KBW Regional Banking Index is on track to end the week down only about 2%.
“Every day without a bank failure is a win for the sector,” said Chris Marinac, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott.
(Updates prices to market close.)
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