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Monday, February 11, 2008

Housing/Subprime Roundup — Feb. 11, 2008

Items of interest:

CDO Losses Driving Credit-Default Swaps to Record, Analysts Say --- Banks are driving the cost of protecting corporate bonds from default to the highest on record as they seek to hedge against losses on collateralized debt obligations, according to traders of credit-default swaps.

Contracts on the benchmark Markit iTraxx Crossover Index soared 17 basis points to 547 at 12:50 p.m. in London, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The Markit iTraxx Asia Ex-Japan Series 8 Index soared the most in one day, rising 15 basis points to an all-time high of 144.5, according to BNP Paribas SA. The Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index rose 2.5 basis points to 132.25, Deutsche Bank AG prices show.

``Banks have taken losses, spreads are going wider and they are just cutting positions,'' said Andrea Cicione, a senior credit strategist at BNP Paribas in London. ``Lenders are probably reducing risk positions in a deteriorating credit environment by unwinding CDOs.'' Banks are facing mounting writedowns on CDOs, securities that package credit-default swaps, bonds or loans, as the fallout from the collapse of U.S. subprime mortgages spreads across financial markets. The Group of Seven estimates banks worldwide will suffer writedowns of $400 billion on home loans, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said at a weekend meeting of officials and central bankers in Tokyo. [...]

AIG Discloses `Weakness' in Derivative Accounting -- American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer by assets, said auditors found a ``material weakness'' in how the company values its credit- default swap portfolio. The stock fell the most in 20 years.

The contracts declined by about $4.88 billion in October and November, according to data in a regulatory filing today. The drop was confirmed by company spokesman Chris Winans. AIG had said in December that the value of the ``super senior credit derivatives'' fell by about $1.1 billion in those two months. The stock retreated 11 percent to $45.16 as of 10:19 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. [...]
AIG sends insurers reeling - Financial Times
AIG Disclosure In Filings Hammers Stock (AIG) - 24 /7 Wall St.
Loews profit falls 31%, hurt by subprime - ReportOnBusiness

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