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It's a bloodbath in the stock market as First Republic Bank's shares take a nosedive, following reports that it's likely headed for receivership under the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
This devastating news comes on the heels of a 75% loss in its stock's value this week alone. If the San Francisco-based lender collapses, it would mark the third U.S. bank to do so since March. Moreover, First Republic recently reported that its deposits had fallen by over $100 billion in the first quarter, adding to the grim picture.
The bank's shares plummeted more than half of their value on Friday and reached an all-time low of $2.99, forcing trading to halt multiple times. At its lowest point, the bank's market cap was a mere $557 million, a net contrast to its peak valuation of over $40 billion in November 2021.
To make matters worse, short sellers have raised their bets against the bank by $63 million to $376 million in the past 30 days, according to the director of Predictive Analytics at S3 Ihor Dusaniwsky.
First Republic has a rich history dating back to 1985 when it was founded. The bank has since expanded its operations and now maintains offices in 11 states across the country, including California, Florida, and New York.
The bank's extensive network offers a wide range of financial services, including personal and business banking, real estate lending, and private wealth management services. In 2007, First Republic Bank was acquired by Merrill Lynch for a whopping $1.8 billion. Nevertheless, its journey did not end there since Merrill Lynch was subsequently acquired by Bank of America.
In 2010, Bank of America sold First Republic to a group of private investors. It was a turning point for the bank as it once again became publicly traded, paving the way for its eventual rise to become one of the most prominent financial institutions in the country.
However, the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and the subsequent collapse of Signature Bank in March sent shockwaves throughout the banking industry, triggering a run on deposits at regional banks like First Republic. As a result, both Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings downgraded First Republic's credit rating, citing its high proportion of uninsured deposits and its lending practices, which saw it lend out more money than it had in deposits.
In need of capital to stave off further losses, First Republic sought loans from the Federal Reserve and the Federal Home Loan Bank, as well as a line of credit from JPMorgan. Furthermore, it even received a $30 billion infusion from 11 big U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo, in an attempt to shore up its finances.
Despite these efforts, many of First Republic Bank’s clients have moved their money to larger banks, further compounding the bank's financial difficulties. Unfortunately, such as in the Silicon Valley Bank case, many of the deposits exceed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) limit of $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, or per ownership category, leaving them vulnerable to potential losses.
Indeed, during the past week, U.S. investors typed 250 times per day “First Republic”, and expressed a general negative sentiment towards the banking system.
Wall Street is wrapping up a strong April with moderate gains as companies report better-than-expected profits for the start of the year. Despite some turbulence this week, the S&P 500 is set to close out its second consecutive winning month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 193 points, while the Nasdaq composite was up 0.5%. Exxon Mobil and Mondelez International reported stronger profits and revenue than anticipated, lifting the market, while Intel reported a milder loss and stronger revenue than what expected. However, Amazon's 3.4% drop weighed heavily on the market despite stronger-than-expected profit and revenue for the latest quarter.
In general, the reporting season has been positive, with a lot of companies beating expectations, particularly tech giants Microsoft, Alphabet, and Meta Platforms. However, Wall Street is concerned about continued weakness leading to a third consecutive drop in earnings for S&P 500 companies in the second quarter.
Recent reports have increased expectations of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates at its next meeting, and traders are betting on the possibility of further rate increases in June. The Fed is concerned about high inflation becoming entrenched and slowing the economy. Indeed, they showed that worker compensation has risen more than expected, which could further contribute to inflation.
The Fed has already raised interest rates to their highest level since before the Great Recession, and it has caused cracks in the banking system. Last month, the second and third-largest U.S. bank failures in history rocked global markets, with investors now searching for other weak links.
A recent poll by Morning Consult found that cryptocurrency adoption in the US has increased, with 22% of Americans owning at least one form of crypto in April, up by four percentage points from January.
BTC was the most widely held digital asset, with nearly 16% of respondents owning it, followed by Ethereum, Binance Coin, and Tether. This increase in crypto ownership may be due to fears of a banking crisis, as Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, Credit Suisse, and First Republic have all experienced failures and decapitalization.
As a result, investors have sought out digital assets and gold producers, as well as shorting the US dollar. Despite this, gold still presents a relatively small fraction of the investable asset market, with the total amount invested in all financial assets being around $266 trillion, and gold bullion holding only about 1% of that amount.
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Although BTC and ETH have both experienced recent market downturns, they continue to be among the most profitable cryptocurrencies in 2023, with Bitcoin up 80% and Ethereum up 60% for the year.
Despite this, two market indicators suggest that Ethereum may actually be performing better than Bitcoin in the current market. These indicators paint a different picture of what is happening in the crypto space and highlight the potential value of investing in Ethereum.
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