S&P Global Ratings said today that it expects the 12-month default rate for speculative-grade European financial and nonfinancial corporate issuers that it rates to remain close to 2.0% by the end of June 2018, continuing the recent trend (see “The European Corporate Speculative-Grade Default Rate Should Remain Close To 2% Through June 2018”). This forecast remains significantly below the average 12-month trailing default rate of 3.2% between January 2002 and June 2017.
“European macroeconomic trends and credit conditions continue to support a low default rate,” according to the agency. “For example, eurozone GDP growth will likely reach 2% in 2017 and is becoming more geographically balanced. Monetary policy should stay accommodative, as inflationary pressures remain low. And debt issuance from speculative-grade European corporates has been increasing, while the European Central Bank’s (ECB) survey on lending standards suggests that credit conditions for large firms continue to loosen on aggregate.”
S&P Global goes on to say, however, that some credit factors are more negative. S&P Global expects a more moderate growth trajectory for the U.K., as Brexit uncertainties dampen investment and higher inflation curbs household spending. In addition, its ratings-based indicators of European credit performance present a mixed picture. While the negative ratings bias among speculative-grade corporates has been stable in recent months, the ratings distribution is becoming more concentrated on lower rating levels, suggesting rising aggregate credit risk, S&P Global comments.
Based on credit-related and macroeconomic factors, S&P Global believes the default rate should remain low over the coming months. S&P Global determines its default rate forecast for speculative-grade European financial and nonfinancial corporates based on a variety of quantitative and qualitative factors.
“Projecting to the end of June 2018, we expect the 12-month trailing default rate for speculative-grade European financial and nonfinancial corporates will remain at about 2% in our baseline scenario, with 13 issuers defaulting,” S&P Global says. Under its optimistic scenario, the speculative-grade default rate would be 1.0% (six issuers), while in its pessimistic scenario, the default rate would be 3.2% (20 issuers). — Luke Millar
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