Credit Suisse shares tumble again, sentiment remains fragile

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LONDON/ZURICH, March 17 (Reuters) – Shares in Credit Suisse resumed their decline on Friday, giving up early gains, in a sign that investor sentiment remains fragile in a week that has seen the troubled Swiss lender secure a $54 billion lifeline.

A ratings downgrade and a U.S. lawsuit on Thursday offset some of the relief that stemmed from the emergency liquidity line the bank secured from the Swiss central bank earlier in the day.

Credit Suisse fell by as much as 10% following two days of sharp swings, which saw its shares jump 20% on Thursday after a 24% drop on Wednesday when its largest investor said it would not be able to increase its stake. Volatility remained high.

“Whether depositors are sufficiently reassured to stem outflows over the next few days is a key question, in our view,” said Frédérique Carrier, head of investment strategy for RBC Wealth Management.

“While markets are relieved that the Swiss central bank stepped in, sentiment is bound to remain very fragile, particularly as investors will likely worry about the eventual economic impact of aggressive monetary policy tightening by the European Central Bank (ECB),” she added.

Credit Suisse saw more than $200 million net outflows from its U.S. and European managed funds after March 13, Morningstar Direct said on Friday.

DBRS Morningstar on Thursday became the first global rating agency to cut the bank’s credit score, with a downgrade to “BBB”, which still qualifies Credit Suisse as investment grade.

The head of the Credit Suisse’s Swiss business said late on Thursday the funding would allow the bank to continue its revamp, although it could take time to win back client confidence.

In a further sign that concern about banking stress remains elevated, the ECB Supervisory Board convened an unscheduled meeting on Friday to discuss stress and vulnerabilities in the euro zone bank sector.

The ECB supervisors saw no contagion to euro zone banks from the market turmoil, a source familiar with the content of the meeting told Reuters, adding that supervisors were informed that deposits remained stable across euro zone banks and exposure to Credit Suisse was immaterial.

A $30 billion lifeline for U.S.-based First Republic Bank (FRC.N) eased fears about its future, but a late tumble in its shares showed investors remained concerned about cracks in the sector after the collapse of two other mid-sized U.S. lenders over the past week.

Credit Suisse shares are down about 26% this week and poised for their biggest week drop since October 2008 and the global financial crisis.

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European banking stocks (.SX7P) were marginally higher on Friday but were nursing heavy weekly losses – down almost 9% in their biggest fall in a year.

“We are still a little cautious here but there certainly has been more positive news on Credit Suisse,” said John Milroy, investment adviser at Ord Minnett.

“Markets still thinking that there is something else to crack with the Fed hell bent on raising rates and some more work to do.”

It’s not just the confidence of the markets that has been severely shaken.

U.S. shareholders of Credit Suisse sued the bank on Thursday, claiming it defrauded them by concealing problems with its finances. Credit Suisse declined to comment on the lawsuit.