Dollar-funding strains ease as Libor slides beyond two-year low

Money-market forward indicators signaled conditions eased with the rate banks say it would cost to borrow from one another for three months dropping to the lowest level in more than two years.

Three-month London interbank offered rate, or Libor, fell to a new low for the year at 0.2594%, pushing the gauge to the lowest since Aug. 1, 2011, according to the British Bankers’ Association. The Libor-OIS spread, a gauge of banks’ reluctance to lend, narrowed to 15.4 basis points from 15.8 basis points.

Overnight index swaps, or OIS, give traders predictions on what the Federal Reserve’s effective funds rate will average for the term of the swap. The central bank’s target rate is set in a range of zero to 0.25%.

Predictions in the forward market for Libor-OIS, known as the FRA/OIS spread, rose to 18.5 basis points from 18.3 basis points, according to the second rolling three month contracts.

The difference between the two-year swap rate and the comparable-maturity Treasury note yield, known as the swap spread, narrowed 0.63 basis point to 17.63 basis points. The gap is a gauge of investors’ perceptions of U.S. banking-sector credit risk as swap rates are derived from expectations for dollar Libor.

Swap rates serve as benchmarks for investors in many types of debt, including mortgage-backed and auto-loan securities.

The seasonally adjusted amount of U.S. commercial paper rose $16.7 billion to $1.0204 trillion in the week ended Aug. 21, according to Fed data.

Euribor-OIS Spread

The cost for European banks to convert euro-denominated payment streams into dollars-based funding via the cross currency swaps market increased. The three-month cross-currency basis swap was 10 basis points below Euribor, compared with 9.8 basis points below yesterday.

Foreign-exchange swaps are typically for periods of less than a year, while cross-currency basis swaps usually range from one to 30 years. The latter are agreements in which a person borrows in one currency and simultaneously lends in a different currency. The trade involves the exchange of two different floating-rate payments, each denominated in a different currency and based on a different index.

The Euribor-OIS spread, the difference between the euro interbank offered rate and overnight indexed swaps narrowed. The measure of banks’ reluctance to lend to one another was 12.3 basis points, compared with 13 basis points.

Repo Rates

The overnight Treasury general collateral repurchase agreement rate opened today at 0.04%, according to ICAP Plc, the world’s largest inter-dealer broker.

The average rate for borrowing and lending Treasuries for one day in the repo market was 0.035% yesterday, according to a GCF repo index provided on a one-day lag by the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.

Securities dealers use repos to finance holdings and increase leverage. Securities that can be borrowed at interest rates close to the Fed’s target rate are called general collateral. Those in highest demand have lower rates and are called “special.”

The average rate for overnight federal funds, known as the fed effective rate, was 0.08% yesterday. The rate opened today at 0.1%. The effective rate is a volume-weighted average of trades between major brokers for overnight funds, reported on a day lag by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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